Chuck E. Bloom
up in the small town of Bloomdale, Ohio, Chuck E. Bloom dreamed
of living in a tall building where he could look out his window
and gaze upon the lights of a city. His fantasy came true in 2002
when he moved to Portland's Ione Plaza apartments
a far cry from his grandma's farm with a two-seater outhouse,
falling-down barn and pump house where they really did get their
water from a well.
As a storyteller of sorts, Chuck Bloom builds the stage and supplies
the imagery and symbolism, offering the viewer a glimpse into
"It's a realm in which dreams and possibilities
and a chance for pure imagination are presented for you to do
with them as you wish," he said.
Quandary," acrylic, 8" x 10"
There are no inhabitants visible in Chuck's work
because, for him, the notion of someone else being present in
his landscapes creates a barrier that would make it less accessible
both visually and mentally. The viewer becomes the explorer.
"There is a tremendous learning experience
that can happen when your worldview is challenged and you finally
recognize that the things that can't and never happen,
often do," he said.
"This is why I consider myself a Surrealist;
a person's individual reality with all of his or her life experiences
is rarely the same as another person's reality, thus, you are
presented with the unanswerable question of whose reality is more
real. Some people's dreams are more real than the life they live,
so now what are we suppose to believe?"
The size of Chuck's artwork varies from 1"
x 2" canvases to a hexagon measuring 30 inches on each side
to murals filling entire walls.
"I make my small paintings because they are
intimate and personal to each person that views them," he
said. "My work is all incredibly detailed and each takes
me large amounts of time and thought to complete at least
to the point where I consider them finished enough."
Mural mural on the wall
Chuck has done several murals, but knows of only one that survives
in its entirety his most recent, at Portland's Sultan Café
on Northwest 17th and Raleigh.
"The mural on the back wall is about five by
eight feet and it's a mostly realistic rendering of the Dome of
the Rock surrounded by the city of Jerusalem with the wall of
Jerusalem in the foreground," he said. "In the rest
of the café I painted faux marble pillars and Arabic motif
patterns and writings on the wall space above the windows."
Chuck's other Portland mural, on the walls of the
defunct Broadway Coffee Trader on Northeast Broadway, has been
"One wall had the Birth of Venus, another had
the Creation of Man, another wall was Good sewing the firmament
complete with cherubs galore," he said. "Now the walls
are all yellow and covered with shelves of alpaca clothing.
"Had I known it was to be destroyed I would've
found a way to remove it in portions and save it."
Chuck also did several murals in Ohio: a nightclub
and a coffee shop, along with numerous tabletops for other coffee
"My most impressive mural was for Border's
Books and Music in Fairlawn, Ohio," he said. "A section
of it still survives in someone's home."
For Chuck, inspiration lies in wait everywhere; it's a matter
of being aware of it.
of Dreams," acrylic, 4" x 4"
"I'm inspired by or influenced by several hundred
things a day," he said, "but as an artist it's more
about responding to the things that inspire and influence me.
"I can draw inspiration from a rock, a fallen
tree, a screaming child or a hurricane. You can't afford to have
blind spots when you're an artist."
It's not just the images or experiences that inspire
Chuck, it's also the perceptions he has of them and the observations
he makes of other people's perceptions, as well as the memories
and vague references of things he encounters in dreams.
"These things all formulate a chain reaction
of sorts where all things collide. The memories and false memories
and fragments of the past mixed with my encounters from an hour
ago and the dreams from the night before," he said. "I
think there must be some way to make this chaos more approachable
and my canvases are the catalyst for doing so."
Half Decaf Soy Ice Blended Fish Latte With Extra Foam,"
acrylic, 3" x 3"
Chuck has a long list of favorite artists, all of
whom inspire him or influence his work in some way.
"I love the Surrealists, nearly all of them,"
he said. "I've done an incredible amount of research and
have read as many as a hundred books, articles or essays over
the past couple of years on Surrealism and I can't think of a
more appropriate way of expressing myself artistically.
"Historically, Surrealism has been considered
a political/social movement, but it far exceeds that definition.
Surrealism was a lifestyle, a philosophy of living, a way of seeing
and a belief system which is far from over."
Important to Chuck is Andre Breton's definition:
Surrealism, n. Psychic automatism in its pure
state, by which we propose to express verbally, in writing,
or in any other manner the real process of thought. The
dictation of thought, in the absence of any control exercised
by reason and outside any aesthetic or moral concerns.
Surrealism is based on the belief in the superior
reality of certain forms of previously neglected associations,
in the omnipotence of the dream, in the disinterested play of
thought. It tends to destroy definitively all other psychic mechanisms
and to substitute itself for them in solving all the principle
problems of life.
Series 6," mixed media on paper
Chuck's favorite artists include, but are not limited to: Yves
Tanguy, Meret Oppenheim, Dorothea Tanning, Max Ernst, Victor Brauner,
Kay Sage and George de Chirico. He also admires Dali, Van Gogh
and Duchamp, and his favorite Surrealist writers are Mallarmeé,
the Comte de Lautreamont (Cantos of Maldoror), Federico Garcia
de Lorca and Rimbaud.
Next month Chuck's art will be on display in Portland
at Blend Coffeehouse, 2327 East Burnside. In December he's participating
in a miniature art show at Portland's Backspace Gallery, 115 NW
His studio is in the new ActivSpace building at
Northwest 17th and Raleigh (behind the Sultan Café) and
is open any time he's there.
"Please come and visit," he said, "I
love to talk."
Prominently displayed in Chuck's studio is a quote
from Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland."
"There is no use trying," said
Alice," one can't believe impossible things."
"I dare say you haven't much practice,"
said the queen.
"When I was your age, I always did
it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed
as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Chuck believes it's a good way to approach each
Art was a big part of Chuck's childhood. He did it all, from drawing,
painting and coloring to Playdoh, Spirograph, Etch-A-Sketch and
"By far my favorite toy was my Legos. I loved
my Legos and could pass away an entire day playing with them.
I still have Legos in my studio."
It All Works Out," pen and ink, 5" x 7"
Chuck's parents and brother are all creative in
their own way. His father has a green thumb and his brother is
mechanically inclined. Chuck calls his mom an artist, although
she doesn't consider herself one.
"Mom did chalk drawings all over the bathroom
walls when I was very young and was always drawing pictures as
favors for people," he said. "She drew an amazing portrait
in pencil of me and my brother.
"I also remember a large chalk mural of the
small church we went to by my grandma's house, and there is still
a huge mural of a cowboy riding a horse and the silhouette of
a tree on the living-room wall hidden under the paneling."
In high school, Chuck took every art class offered
and was chosen Outstanding Art Student each year. He was president
of the art club and his summers were spent attending art classes
at Bowling Green State University.
He received an art scholarship to Mount Union College
in Alliance, Ohio, where he won the Mary-Evelyn Cook Weber Prize
for Outstanding Artistic Achievement his sophomore year, as well
as the Dean's Purchase Award his sophomore through senior years.
Chuck graduated Mount Union with bachelors degrees
in art and psychology, then attended Kent State University to
pursue his M.F.A. and teach undergraduate classes.
"I also taught art in Maui for the Lahaina
Arts Society and the Boys and Girls Club. In 2002 I received the
Scottie Flam Award for Excellence in Art Education and Outstanding
Community Service in Maui," he said. "I'd love to teach
Learning to crawl
The simple answer to why Chuck creates art is because he must.
It's been quite the journey to get to this point and to see that
this is what he is.
Give Up," acrylic, 3" x 5"
"I am an artist and I create; this is my job,
this is my purpose and my existence," he said. "I have
given up my artwork many times in the past for real jobs that
offered things I didn't think this could ever deliver. I neglected
the only thing that was ever a real constant in my life only to
come crawling back in despair to find out over and over again
that when I give up my art I give up myself.
"I have learned from my mistakes and now allow
art to take control of my life, as it should."
Chuck didn't set out with any specific goals regarding
his art, but he does have a vision he works toward: being seriously
accepted in the art community and recognized as an important entity
in the world of art.
"Of course, I have daydreams of flying off
to Europe to be part of shows and museum collections and be the
ripple of excitement that travels though crowds of big collectors,"
"Will I be famous? I hope so. Will I earn the
income I need or want from my artwork? I am pretty sure. Will
the books of art history talk of the work of Chuck E. Bloom? That
is yet to be told."