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Charles Howard Voorhies

American, 1901-1970



Occupation or Type


Northwest artist

Oregon artist


Charles Voorhies was born in Portland to a pioneer Oregon family. He studied architecture at the University of California from 1926-1928, and then worked with Diego Rivera on the San Francisco Stock Exchange murals in 1930. He assisted Maurice Sterne with murals for the Library of the Justice Department in Washington D.C. in 1937. Subsequent travel took him to France, Italy, England, Mexico and Spain for a year. Returning to Portland in 1939, he joined the staff of the Museum Art School where he taught drawing and painting until 1957.

His exhibition history is extensive. In California during the 1930s and 1940s, he showed work at the San Francisco Museum of Art, California Palace of Legion of Honor, and the DeYoung Museum. Voorhies also contributed to the New York World's Fair Exhibition and to the Art Institute of Chicago. The Portland Art Museum featured him in a one person show in 1932 and he entered work in Museum shows on a fairly regular basis.

In the 1950s the mood of a series of Willamette Valley works was more somber and darker in color than his previous palette coinciding with a period of serious health problems. In 1958 he returned to France and Spain where he painted for nine months and produced what Rachael Griffin termed "the tall, golden oils of the Spanish sojourn." Upon his return, he continued to offer classes at a studio in his home in Portland.

Two years after his death the Portland Art Museum held a retrospective of his work. The catalog contained essays by Griffin, Jack McLarty, and Jack Wilkinson. Griffin recalled how line and brushwork became more rapid and confident as the years passed and his view of nature broadened and deepened. Voorhies considered Cézanne and Chinese landscapists to be strong influences in his painting. His line was calligraphic and figures were rare in his work. He said, "I approached painting by way of architecture." McLarty elaborated, "Perhaps it's the line that says the most ... it points out the bony structure of the rock and cuts out the shape of the cliffs and bare hills."

Artist biography reproduced with permission from the authors, Oregon Painters: the First Hundred Years (1859-1959), Ginny Allen and Jody Klevit.



Related People

father of: Margot Voorhies Thompson (American, born 1948)

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