Artist Spotlight

Chuck Albanese

Don Crowley Painting

Chuck writes: “I have always been creative and involved in creativity. I played jazz at a time when it was possible. I depended on being skillful as a designer to achieve success in architectural practice. I was creative and innovative as a teacher, and some even accuse me of being creative and innovative as an educational administrator. However, the discipline I aspired to succeed in most has always been and remains, painting.

To me, painting is a metaphor – it is the journey, not the destination, that is important. I love to explore new ideas but cannot yet abandon the fundamentals of the craft. To be a watercolorist, I believe I must prove to myself that I know and can manage the media. I explore the parameters and venture beyond classical methods but remain in the quest to satisfy my criteria for achievement. Perhaps it is this unsatisfied pursuit that motivates me to paint every day.

My present work is firmly grounded in experiencing architecture and urban space. The architect in me is too ingrained. Travelling, which is also part of my life, allows me to see the world as it was and is today, and capture the color, texture, and form as it will always be. Painting as I travel gives me the discipline to sit and really see and experience what would otherwise be digital images of what I tell others I saw. My painting is as much a part of how I see, or choose to see, the world as I can possibly make it.

I have learned this about myself: I am more successful painting plain air in a noisy and crowded piazza than I am on a breathtaking but lonely mountain top. I paint when I am in a socially stimulating environment and I need that stimulation to be creative.

I now look at and critique my work and ask what is next. Instead of just experimenting as an act of discovery, I am looking at recent work and work completed years ago, and I am prepared to attempt to take that work further using new technology.

Chuck Albanese
‘Our Proud Mission’ 18”x 20” oil

I call it “second generation painting.” This may be a journey to nowhere, but I will follow that path and hopefully determine if past discipline can lead to future creativity.

I grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., with most of my interest and activities focused on music.  I attended the University of Illinois and received degrees in architecture and urban design. Most importantly, I met my wife Claire. We spent our first year together travelling through Europe in a Volkswagen camper on a university fellowship. That year was documented in a detailed journal and sketchbook, and we created a foundation that would eventually re-emerge to direct our lives even today.

I joined the faculty of the University of Arizona College of Architecture in 1967 and soon found myself immersed in community projects along with my fulltime teaching responsibilities. I became registered as an architect, formed a firm that continues today, and settled into a busy pattern of teaching, architectural practice, coaching soccer, sketching, and painting in limited periods, and watching life proceed – as planned.  I created a university program that enabled Claire and me to spend portions of the following 16 summers guiding university students through Italy and Greece.  I retired after 36 years on the faculty, only to soon return as Dean of the now renamed College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. The summer painting and sketching trips continued, and, now with 24 trips behind us, hundreds of new painters have emerged. Some “summer alumni” are now successful exhibiting professional painters.

My forty years at the University of Arizona and almost that many years of practice, and the completion of over 250 built projects, have given me a sense of accomplishment that frees me to pursue what I have always set aside as a passion-in-waiting… painting. Finally able to dedicate enough time to painting, I am now exploring ideas, media, and subject matter that has intrigued me for years. I am now able to explore a media that should be a life-long journey and accept that it is never too late to pursue the dream. I integrate my painting with all aspects of life today, including travel, recreation, teaching, and social life. I accept the structural influence that being an architect implies and strive to achieve freedom and understanding of watercolor as an artist. I see myself today as a student again: A full career circle that now requires exploration, dedication, commitment, and a free and unencumbered focus on the creative process of being a painter."

Past Artists of the Year Winners