Charles Marchant Stevenson III was born to Mildred and Charles Stevenson II on August 29, 1927 in Washington, D.C.
In 1937 Stevenson won a scholarship to the Corcoran Academy of Fine Art which he attended for seven years, a child studying among adults.
In interviews with Matt Leach and Antonia Lamb [A&E Magazine, August 1994], Stevenson is quoted:
"At ten years old I had a revelation of talent, and I won a scholarship to the adult school of the Corcoran Academy of Fine Art...It was an interesting experience, being a child, partaking in these adult classes.
"We went to the National Museum in Washington, D.C., the Mellon Gallery, and copied paintings...I copied an El Greco, 'The Virgin of Saint Tecla and Saint Inez', which is a very elongated, sinuous, flame-like brush stroke painting. I was dissatisfied with the color, because I couldn't get it as rich and luminous as the original. Then I met a man who was a professional copier, and he told me about glazing techniques. I was much more satisfied with my second painting, a copy of 'The Chess Players' by Honoré Daumier, because I followed this man's suggestions for glazing transparent colors over a gray or beige underpainting, as the old masters did.
"It was 1938 and I was eleven years old."
In September 1945, immediately after his eighteenth birthday Stevenson enlisted in the United States Navy where he was assigned as illustrator for the morale magazine All Hands, art director for Training Bulletin and editor of Naval Training.
After his tour of duty Stevenson continued his education in Philadelphia, attending both the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and the University of Pennsylvania for two and a half years.
Ending his formal education, Stevenson married briefly and found work in a series of art-related jobs far from his dream of life as an artist, as an apprentice stained glass church window designer at the Paine-Speyers factory in Patterson, New Jersey, an attendant and art therapist in a mental hospital in Hartford, Connecticut and an advertising artist for department stores in Dallas and New York City.
Stevenson moved to San Francisco in 1954 to work for the commercial advertising agency Wyatt & Welsh. Two years later, Stevenson was self-employed, still in San Francisco, in demand as a muralist and portrait painter.
During his last four years in San Francisco, Stevenson created and ran Stevenson Graphics, a modestly successful advertising art agency in which Stevenson acted as agent for a stable of ten artists and had little time for his own painting.
The bare bones of Charles Marchant Stevenson's life to this point conceal a cultured, gracious and generous man with a gift for friendship, whose interest in myth, history, poetry, music and theatre and whose exploration of hermetic philosophy and sacred geometry were part of a life-long search for the spiritual within the mundane.
In 1961 Stevenson closed the San Francisco chapter in his life.
Stevenson told Leach and Lamb, "Years ago a fortuneteller told me that I had a chance to remake my entire life and I said, 'What I'd really like to find is someplace like Carmel or Monterey was, when all the artists and writers were there.'
"And she said, 'Mendocino!'
"I put everything in the back of my old Buick and came to this wonderland, and found that the rumors were a little off. The town was then pretty sad-seeming because half of the buildings were boarded up and almost every house in town needed paint or something done to it.
"The reason I stayed was because of Bill and the Art Center. We had it in our hearts that our purpose was somehow to revive this town and make it a center for art...I remember praying that something would happen, that all those houses would get painted and fixed up again and that the town would not be trashed with awful architecture. And we worked hard to make it happen. To attract people. And they came...
"It was my longtime dream to be part of a golden age of art. What happened in Mendocino gave us the feeling that we could influence the course of events by our dreams and our visions. The people who came helped complete our connection with the arts and I think we did have a golden age."
Charles Marchant Stevenson helped create that golden age and, in his last years when Mendocino's golden age was passing into myth, Stevenson reenvisioned it, willed it back into being long enough to awaken the dream in the hearts of a new generation.
On arrival in Mendocino, Stevenson phoned Dorr Bothwell, his sole acquaintance in Mendocino, whom he knew slightly from San Francisco metaphysical circles. Bothwell invited Stevenson to her studio, then took him to dinner at the home of Mendocino Art Center founders Bill and Jennie Zacha. That night Zacha rented Stevenson a small place behind their house (the Albert Brown House, 640 Little Lake Street) and gave Stevenson two weeks worth of architectural drafting work.
Soon Stevenson found part-time work at several local bars and restaurants, but even working his "Mendocino Bouquet" of jobs, Stevenson found himself unable to meet his rent. Some of Stevenson's paintings were hanging at the Seagull Restaurant where Stevenson waited tables. Coincidentally, on the day the rent was due, a Seagull customer saw a painting he liked and called Stevenson at the Zacha's, offering to buy the painting for half price. Bill Zacha overheard the conversation and broke in, "Make them pay twice the price!"
Telling the story to journalist Robyn Roberson [Outlook, August 1994], Stevenson says, "Well, by the end of the day someone else had bought the painting for my price and rent was paid...Bill took my work to his Bay Window Gallery and whenever I needed money, he sold my work. It was just like magic!"
In addition, Bill Zacha offered Stevenson a job teaching at the Mendocino Art Center.
Charles Stevenson's solid academic background, the years of practical application of his skills, his creative vision, his insight, enthusiasm and personal warmth made him an especially inspiring teacher. He taught at the Mendocino Art Center for almost forty years, guiding generations of young artists.
Stevenson is best known for his dynamic large-format portraits, painted in acrylics, often on a surface of gessoed cheesecloth on wood or masonite panels, but his subject matter is as varied as his many interests. A Renaissance man, Stevenson's knowledge of history and culture, his metaphysical studies, his habits of precise observation, his use of sacred geometry in composition, and his warm humanity, all create work filled with power, insight and impish humor.
Bill and Jennie Zacha's daughter Lucia remembers, "I think I first met Charles - Chuck is what we all called him then - in the studio when I was six or seven. I know I was seven when he painted my portrait. He was magical. I was supposed to be picking flowers and there I was, out in a field with all these wild mustard weeds, yet when he was finished I was picking beautiful flowers."
Stevenson was an Anglican by birth, but with respect and joy he explored most of the world's religions in his artwork.
Between 1974 and 1984, Stevenson designed the magnificent stained glass angel windows at the Episcopal Church of Saint Michael's and All Angels, Fort Bragg, California.
The artist's murals can still be seen at the Methodist Church of the Good Shepherd in Richmond, California and at the non-denominational Piedmont Community Church in Piedmont, California, where Stevenson also designed the altar cross for the children's chapel.
Stevenson's large acrylic paintings are so eye-popping that art critics sometimes fail to mention his work in other media. Stevenson's drawings, serigraphs, paintings in gouache and watercolor are smaller, but equally remarkable. Stevenson's serigraphs are brilliant. Some consider Stevenson's most important work to be the masterful suite of pen and ink drawings illustrating Chester Anderson's sharply comic roman à clef, Fox & Hare: The Story of a Friday Evening. His multiple-figure portrait drawing of Chester Anderson is profoundly moving.
No single Mendocino gallery was large enough to hang a truly representative retrospective of Stevenson's large body of work, so in August and September 1994, the Highlight Gallery and the Mendocino Art Center shared the presentation of The Charles M. Stevenson Retrospective.
Of the retrospective, A&E Magazine editor Gerry Huckaby writes in "Charles Stevenson: The Nature of Reality" [A&E Magazine, August 1994]:
"After the gasps of wonder at individual pieces...after the slack-jawed incredulity ...after the buzzing in the brain that can't absorb any more, and the flattening of vision that may just function well enough for you to find somewhere to sit down - you know then that it is not going to be an easy task to comprehend this body of art."
Huckaby continues, "He is...a painter who has turned away from "court portraiture" (the Duponts, for instance) and continued what was and is essentially a spiritual quest...It is not a matter of humanism (to ask what it means to be a man), but modern spiritualism where theology is another name for physics, where the question is 'what does it mean to be'. Charles Stevenson could easily be called 'the physicist of painting'..."
Charles Marchant Stevenson's work reflects his spiritual and philosophical explorations, his many travels abroad which took him to Japan, England, Egypt, Greece, Italy and France, especially Paris and Monet's gardens at Giverny. His work is also inspired by places and people closer to home, for example, his home of the heart, Mendocino and the lifelong friends he made there. Among many, those friends include Dorr Bothwell, Mary Linley Taylor, Carl Shrager, Chester Anderson, Antonia Lamb, Bonnie Sanger and, not least, Bill and Jennie Zacha, all of whom shared Stevenson's dedication to community and most of whom also shared his passion for theatre.
Stevenson expressed his love for theatre both onstage as an talented actor and behind the scenes, directing plays and designing opulent sets for productions at the Mendocino Art Center's Helen Schoeni Theatre and for the Gloriana Opera Company.
In 1989, while working on sets for the Gloriana Opera Company production of "Peter Pan", Stevenson met gifted young Mendocino painter Matt Leach. Together they completed the sets for "Peter Pan" and designed a poster for the show. Leach had deep admiration and respect for Stevenson and his work; Stevenson saw something of himself in the creative energy and dedication of the younger artist. They continued their artistic collaboration and soon, at Stevenson's invitation they formed Stevenson/Leach Studios (Paris, London, New York, Mendocino).
Stevenson/Leach Studios produced spectacular work, including a series of large double-sided painted screens, including the award-winning "Mendocino Afterglow".
Like his friends the Zachas, at least equal to his artistic gifts, Stevenson had great generosity of spirit.
Time, talent and resources, Charles Marchant Stevenson gave unstintingly to his community, sponsoring exhibitions, concerts and plays, making grants to young artists, musicians and writers, well as giving the Mendocino Art Center generous donations of time and money. Stevenson and his longtime companion Tom Burnham made the Art Center a spectacular gift of land in the heart of the village, with the stipulation that low-cost housing for artists be built on the property. That the Art Center was unable to fulfill the Stevenson/Burnham dream diminishes neither its beauty nor the selfless example they set.
The Art Center's Stevenson Studio was the gift of the artist's parents, Mildred and Charles Marchant Stevenson II.
Aided by his close friend and biographer, the artist Pamela Hunter, in his later years Stevenson hosted a monthly Second Saturday salon at his house on School Street in Mendocino.
In her sensitive tribute to Stevenson, [Real Estate Magazine: Mendocino Property, Issue 450, September 2004], Andarin Arvola shares this glimpse: "His studio/home was a rough and tumble two-storey house with a whimsy of unexpected charm and delight tucked into every corner. At the end of a short winding path into the dense foliage of the backyard was another structure, a room of windows. There were often art projects displayed there as well. An old ornate metal bed made up with fall leaves looked especially inviting."
One of Charles Marchant Stevenson's final gifts is the memory of those special evenings where food and wine were plentiful, young artists exhibited new work, local musicians performed, poets gave readings and all were welcome.
- Carol Goodwin Blick (2008)
Zacha's Bay Window offers a digital museum archive of Mendocino Heritage Artist Charles Stevenson's work for art lovers and scholars.
Interview: Charles Stevenson, Master Painter
by Matt Leach
with excerpts from an interview with Antonia Lamb on December 6, 1990
A&E Magazine, August 1994
I was born in 1927.
At ten years old I had a revelation of talent, and I won a scholarship to the adult school of the Corcoran Academy of Fine Art. I continued going to the Corcoran all during high school. It was an interesting experience, being a child, partaking in these adult classes.
We went to the National Museum in Washington, D.C., the Mellon Gallery, and copied paintings during the summer.
I copied an El Greco, "The Virgin of Saint Tecla and Saint Inez", which is a very elongated, sinuous, flame-like brush stroke painting. I was dissatisfied with the color, because I couldn't get it as rich and luminous as the original. Then I met a man who was a professional copier, and he told me about glazing techniques. I was much more satisfied with my second painting, a copy of "The Chess Players" by Honoré Daumier, because I followed this man's suggestions for glazing transparent colors over a gray or beige underpainting, as the old masters did.
It was 1938 and I was eleven years old.
Then I took an outdoor landscape class with Eugene Weisz and Nicoli Cicowski. They were famous painters then, and I got used to considering myself almost a peer to these artists. I wasn't really a peer but they made me conscious of the dignity that an authority could have.
After I got out of high schoolI went into the Navy as an illustrator for the magazine All Hands, and I was the art editor for the magazine Naval Training. There I had the experience of laying out, counting the type, and all the technical aspects of putting a magazine to bed.
When I left the Navy I went to the University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. They had a coordinated program so I could take college classes at the university and art classes at the academy. There I worked with Daniel Garber and Franklin P. Watkins as my teachers, and I had the adventure of being on my own as an art student. I went there for two and a half years.
Then I got married and found that I had to get a job, and I was surprised to find that there were no jobs for being an artist. I worked as an attendant and art therapist in a mental institution, and I apprenticed as a designer for the Peyne-Speyers stained glass company in Paterson, New Jersey. I worked under a German designer who was a very revered person in that milieu. We made church windows.
In 1954, at the age of twenty-seven, I went to work for Wyatt & Welsh, a commercial advertising agency in San Francisco, for two years. Then I started my own agency, Stevenson Graphics. I started with $5000 and ten artists, for whom I acted as agent, taking their works to advertising directors throughout the city. We were successful enough to pay the rent for a large decorative floor of a building on Gold Street, and to pay some salary when business was slow. Our bank account hovered around the original $5000 investment, and we maintained the business for four years. But I found that all the running around prevented me from doing my own work. I closed the business and looked for what to do next.
A fortune teller I knew told me that I had a chance to remake my entire life. What I really wanted to do was to find a place like Carmel or Monterey were forty years ag, when all the artists and writers were there. She said, "Mendocino", and I put my things in the back of my Buick and came here. I didn't know anyone in town, but I'd met Dorr Bothwell a few times at various metaphysical meetings in San Francisco, so I phoned her when I arrived.
She invited me to her studio and that evening she brought me to the Zacha's to meet Bill and Jennie.
By the end of that evening, with a few sentences from Bill, I had work, and a place to live and paint. Bill rented me a nice apartment/studio behind his place (Albert Brown House) for $65 a month, gave me two weeks work drafting plans until I got on my feet financially, and took me into his Gallery as my agent. In short, he made it possible for me to stay here.
Thanks to Bill, I sold enough paintings to pay the rent and buy food. Bill taught me a thing or two about selling art too. One time I had a painting hanging for sale at the Seagull and a person wanted to buy it. But they asked Bill if they could have it for half price. Bill said, "For you, the price just doubled." The painting sold the next day to someone at the regular price. [The story has several versions.]
I took several jobs to survive. I waited tables and swept up the Seagull, bartended at the Heritage House, and washed dishes at the Music Box, which was the original center for newcomers, located in the building that is now the Highlight Gallery.
In those days (1961-1962) Mendocino was divided between the locals and us, the new influx of artists. For a while we were dubbed 'The Gnomes". I'm not sure why. We hung out at the Music Box, which was a French restauramt/hotel/theatre/publishing house/school for musicians and an ex-whore house. We had some great parties there, costume balls by Jennie Zacha, etc. We also hung out at the infant Art Center, at Dorr Bothwell's studio, and in Bill and Jennie's living room.
Bill and Dorr became my mentors, for their great humanity, and I took on Bill's idea of the Art Center. Dorr and I used to walk out to see the sunsets every day and we used to thrill to the lichens on the old fences and the signs of decay in the woodwork of the town. But the town was pretty sad-seeming at the time too, because half the buildings were boarded up, and almost every house needed paint or something to fix it. We had it in our hearts to somehow revive this town and make it a center for art. I remember praying something would happen, that all these houses would somehow be fixed, yet that the town would not be trashed with awful architecture. So we worked hard to help this happen, to attract people, and they came.
The second wave of newcomers was the advent of the "hippies", as Mendocino became San Francisco's version of a perfect world. They yeasted up our pudding here, to say the least.
It was my longtime dream to be part of a golden age of art. What happened in Mendocino gave us the feeling that we could influence the course of events by our dreams and our visions. The people who came helped complete our connection with the arts and I think we did have a golden age. Theatre and music developed with painting and the other arts.
In the sixties I was doing a lot of portraits. I considered that the main thrust of my being. Although the portraits were a commercial activity, and had the specific goal to produce a likeness, my attitude toward them was to treat them as paintings in themselves, that would hold as paintings even if you had never seen or known the subject, and not dependent upon the likeness. I had it in mind that this was my worthy purpose on earth to do.
For instance in the "Portrait of Lucia" is a specific little girl, but also the eternal little girl. She was gathering flowers in Heider Field. I took movies and still photographs of her doing so, so I had many images to work from.
But I think I became disillusioned with portrait painting as a career. The experience working with people and their attitudes towards something they were purchasing became very stale. I never stopped doing portraits, but I stopped hiring out.
"Sparles" are intersecting lines shaded out like stars which begin to appear in my paintings [here in Mendocino]. I was sitting on the Big River Beach, deserted, looking across at Chapman's Point, where now stands the "castle", and painting and I was undergoing a serious spiritual change at the time, because I was a new person among strangers, and I was a new life. I was exploring the innerworld at that time.
I was trying to abandon my conscious mind and at the same time be conscious on another level, and paint. So that the image came from a murky mysterious place. I've always been interested in Pythagoras, and the wisdom of Egypt especially, and through a Pythagorian thought I found something very harmonious in geometry. At one point I stayed up all night at a drawing board, and I've done all the geometric forms, regular forms, seven-pointed stars. Pythagoras had a theory of spiraling forms, serial dynamic-symmetry, and the Egyptians also had it.
I'd read up on a lot of it and found it to be true: there was a serene classic calmness in the lines that it evoked. I began to use the intersecting lines of the dominant and the sub-dominant and so forth of the theory in my own paintings as stars. I had long been a seeker on the Hermetic path. I was taught by an adept in a secret brotherhood that has been passed on for I don't know how long, in secret, for that is part of its mystery. So I'd been on a mystical journey, which was part of what brought me to Mendocino. I needed solitude and serenity to find my art.
My studies or experiences in the Hermetic pursuit was of the vast All, in dimension. Space itself. Empty space, articulated so that it could be known emptiness.
The sparles came to symbolize forces, energy paths, energy centers, the webwork of energy that extended everywhere. It was the chi of everything. Eventually I took a right turn from that path that was going deeper into mysticism and I realized that the purpose of my like was on this plane, and now was the time to look to the earth. The sparles represent life. I dropped them for a while, but they came back.
The Magic of Charles M. Stevenson: August 29, 1927 - August 30, 2004
by Andarin Arvola
Real Estate Magazine: Mendocino Property, Vol. 18, No. 8, Issue 450
When the news came a few weeks ago that yet another of the grand masters of the Mendocino Coast art community had died, it was with great sorrow that I learned it was Charles Stevenson.
When I was still of high school age, going to Mendocino to wander around the art galleries
was a great pleasure. And there were the paintings, and most particularly, the portraits by
Charles Stevenson. The people were there for all to see, laid bare, but in a gentle way. The
person was known but not exposed. My favorites were the multiple-portraits, one person but at different stages, each flowing into the next: A child; a youngster; a young adult and perhaps even into aged life.
In the last few years, he hosted Second Saturday Salons until he became too frail. His studio/home was a rough and tumble, two-story house with a whimsy of unexpected charm and delight tucked into every corner. At the end of a short winding path into the dense foliage of the backyard was another structure, a room of windows. There were often art projects displayed there as well. An old ornate metal bed made up with fall leaves looked especially inviting.
Charles Marchant Stevenson III showed early promise and was awarded a scholarship at fifteen [sic]to attend the Corcoran Academy of Fine Arts on the East Coast.
While serving with the U.S. Navy during World War II, he was the illustrator of the morale magazine, All Hands, and the art director for two other magazines, Naval Training and Training Bulletin.
After the war, Stevenson continued his education at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
and the University of Pennsylvania.
Like many artists, he had a variety of day jobs until his art began to support him. He was a
stained-glass window designer, an art therapist at a mental health hospital, a reporter for the
San Francisco Chronicle, an artist in the advertising departments of stores, a muralist and portraitist.
In San Francisco, four years before coming to Mendocino ("for the peace of it") he owned and
was president of a fifteen-man advertising agency, Stevenson Graphics.
It was through his friendship with Bill and Jennie Zacha, founders of the Mendocino Art
Center, that he made his way to Mendocino. For a time, he lived on the same property as Bill
and Jennie in a small apartment behind their house.
As Lucia Zacha and I enter the sunshine-drenched living room of the Main Street home of Jennie Zacha, [Jennie] turns from the window, a tiny figure dressed from head to toe in a honey-colored dress of cashmere. This is how I always picture her, perfectly elegant.
"I think I first met Charles, Chuck is what we all called him then, in the studio when I was six
or seven," says Lucia. "I know I was seven when he painted my portrait.
"He was magical. I was supposed to be picking flowers and there I was, out in a field with all
this wild mustard weeds. Yet, when he was finished I was picking beautiful flowers," says
Stevenson taught classes at the Mendocino Art Center soon after moving here. In a 1963
catalog it states that each session was five dollars. On the southwest corner of the art center
is the Stevenson Studio, the tallest building on the site. "Beautiful south lighting," says Lucia.
At the same time [Stevenson] was teaching, Dorr Bothwell, Hilda Pertha, Lolli Jacobson, Leona Walden, Ray and Miriam Rice and many others were also instructors.
"His major love was to paint portraits," says Lucia. "He had work hanging at Zacha's Bay Window Gallery and received commissions from all over the world."
Stevenson's trompe l'oeil multiple portrait of the Zachas dominates the solarium of their Main Street home.
The red tiles of the solarium floor seem to extend up a step and into the painting. In the left panel, Jennie Zacha drapes a dressmakers dummy, a reference to her career as a fashion designer; another Jennie relaxes in a chair, and leaning playfully on the edge of the painting, is a third Jennie, elegantly dressed, ready for an evening out.
On the right panel are three corresponding views of Bill Zacha. At the Zachas' feet Cantare the cat stalks Sifi the dog.
The archives of the Mendocino Art Center reside in large leather-bound scrapbooks, lovingly tended by Jennie Zacha.
In an article in the early sixties, Stevenson spoke of his main love of portraiture and how he perceives his fellow humans:
"We awaken in the morning, rumpled from sleep and stumble in to the bathroom. There we have our bleary-eyed mirror tell us how ugly and mean and sour and sluggish and lazy and utterly hopeless we are.
"My portraits are painted for the sitter himself and no other, and even then it is the unconscious mind of the sitter I am trying to reach, not his intellect. I regard this work with sacramental reverence, and pray over it."
The stained-glass windows of Saint Michael and All Angels Church in Fort Bragg are another example of his reverence. Not only are there the installed windows, but there are designs for more.
But the scrapbooks don't tell all and probably neither do the people I spoke with about Stevenson, but all in all they give a feeling about the man.
"I have an original of Stevenson's on my wall," says Bruce Levene, local author. "It's of my white German shepherd. She was sort of the town dog back in the early seventies when I lived in
town. I had this idea to get everyone to do a drawing of her and put out a book, but I never did. Dorr Bothwell did one and Bob Avery and oh, many more. I was going to call it 'Portraits of Lilith', that was her name."
Charles was a consistent, congenial personality all through the years. He was polite, well-mannered and hopeful. "I always felt hope around him," recalls Steve Jordan of Mendocino.
"He was joyful, but with a subdued joy. The difference between ecstasy and rapture, an inner
intensity. This was not Charles Stevenson, the artist, but what I perceived as Charles Stevenson, the person. One of his major gifts was being an artist," says Jordan. "He was always engaging with whomever he talked with. I always found his works engaging, as well. I'm enchanted and delighted with his work and I'm sure it reflected him," he continues. "We were in some plays together at the Art Center. "'Miss Julie' and 'The Mad Woman of Chaillot' are the two I remember well. Plus, he was always doing something at the theater, not always acting but painting sets, whatever needed doing, says Jordan. Anything he touched was magical."
The Charles M. Stevenson Retrospective Show at the Mendocino Art Center was in 1994. He was a prolific artist and many of the paintings were on loan for the showing, but there were plenty of current works.
A book featuring as much of his work as possible has been in progress for a few years. Pam
Hunter, who has been compiling it, says that not only was Stevenson a remarkable artist, he
was a remarkable person. "It's his painting that I'm interested in, not the subject. He knew so
much about color," she says.
Ray and Miriam Rice also taught at the art center and came to know Stevenson. "I have such
good memories of those times and of Charles," says Miriam. "We were all very compatible,
everyone had their idiosyncrasies but we overlooked them."
"In the early sixties, especially, we had no real entertainment but ourselves so we started the
theater and art projects. There were movies at the art center, that sort of thing."
"Has anyone told you about the school?" Miriam asks. "In the mid-seventies, Stevenson
initiated and became the first director for a Mastership Program at the art center. The school
was for children who didn't fit in public school or who had already graduated. It was
somewhat based on the private schools for art on the East Coast."
Another local artist, James Maxwell, remembers the school well. "These students were local
and very challenging because they were so very bright and creative. We had a curriculum so
we could be accredited. The students had classes where they had to study and, of course,
had access to all these wonderful instructors: Ray Rice did murals and animation; Charles
did painting; I did life drawing; Dorr [Bothwell] was a consultant; Miriam [Rice] taught
sculpture, Bill [Zacha] did watercolor and administration."
Another long-time friend, musician Antonia Lamb says, "The thing about Charles was that like all great artists he recognized and supported others with talent. He could do this because of his
security in his own talent and gifts. I remember my daughter Joanna telling me what a
civilizing, cultural and artistic influence Charles had on her."
Artist, photographer, long-time supporter and board member on the Mendocino Art Center,
Leona Walden has known Stevenson since the mid-seventies when they were instructors at
the Art Center auction. "He had style!" says Walden. "The body of his work is so impressive. I bought a painting of his at an auction. It was me and this guy. We kept bidding against each other. Then he said, 'You're going to just keep going.'" I nodded yes at him. He upped the bit a hundred dollars and left.
Walden informs me that Stevenson donated a piece of property to the Art Center, a lot on the corner of Little Lake and School Street. "He wanted it to be affordable housing for artists, but there's been no solution to the water problem that exists," says Walden "but it may still happen."
A few weeks before his death, Walden photographed the art work that was in his possession. "And there was Stevenson," she says, "an artist to the end, amid cans full of brushes and tubes of paint with work in progress on the easel."