Charles Arthur Fries (1854-1940)

charlesfriesCharles Arthur Fries, illustrator, painter and teacher, was born in Hillsboro, Ohio, August 14, 1854. Raised in Cincinnati, he attended the Art Academy there at a time when it was considered one of the most notable in the United States. Among his fellow students were J. H. Twachtman, Robert Blumen, and Kenyon Cox. After marrying in 1887, he moved his studio to New York City where he was popular as an illustrator and portraitist while living on a farm in Vermont. In 1896 the Fries family headed west and, upon arriving in Southern California, temporarily lived in the ruins of the unrestored mission at San Juan Capistrano. The artist established himself in San Diego in 1897. Sporting a Van Dyke beard and flowing black bow tie, he was often seen riding about San Diego on his bicycle with painting gear in its basket. Fries was later referred to as the “Dean of San Diego Painters”. He devoted his canvases to landscape painting and focused on the desert, the mountains, and eucalyptus trees. His works are sound in craftsmanship and bright in atmospheric light. He died December 15, 1940. A memorial exhibition was held at the Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego in 1941.

[by Martin E. Petersen, Curator of Western Arts at the Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego]

Charles Arthur Fries was a member: San Diego Art Guild; Laguna Beach AA; La Jolla AA; Calif. Art Club; San Diego Contemporary Artists. Exhibited: California State Fair, 1930; California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego 1935; GGIE, 1939, Awards: silver medal, Seattle Fine Arts Society, 1911; silver medal, Panama-California Exposition, San Diego, 1915. His works are held by the San Diego Museum of Art and the San Diego History Center.

See also:

Fries, Charles A. (Denny Stone, ed.). “Memories I Have Heard, Seen, Suffered, and Enjoyed: The Memoirs of Charles A. Fries.” The Journal of San Diego History 47.3 (Summer 2001): 150-169.

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