Charles Kiene implored his parents for a camera at age 5, taught himself to make comic book style 3D drawings at 9, illustrated his grade school history lessons on the blackboards with colored chalk, and drew cartoons in high school. While plodding through electrical engineering in college (although much preferring the humanities courses) he always coveted the homework of a fraternity brother who majored in art. After graduation he went on to a yuppie career in high tech sales, partying, skiing, and frequenting the museums of New York City. One Sunday morning he awoke with a compelling urge to paint pictures, so he went out and found a store where a knowledgeable clerk set him up with a basic set of oils, canvas boards, brushes, and an easel. Later that day, he began a spontaneous though somewhat strange painting of a man in tattered jeans and scraggly beard engulfed in a dank background of greens and blues. A few years later, after suffering a broken heart, he dropped out to find himself (which was the thing to do in those days) and eventually signed up for a life drawing class at the National Academy School of Art. By the end of the first week he knew, and was soon given a scholarship. It was there that he met his mentor, an extraordinary wood engraver named Bernard Brussel-Smith, who opened his eyes and mind as never before. He morphed into the bearded man of the first painting for a while and life became poetic until he eventually grounded himself. During that period he spent a lot of time contemplating and photographing tattered poster walls and graffiti images. These days he works a lot, balances business with creativity, loves to cook fancy meals, keeps fit, and after spending some some 30 years in the looney bin of California now lives happily with his wife Kathy and their two cats in Reno, Nevada.
Now what does all that mean? Well, biographies are biographies. They’re a customary requisite for artists, yet the curriculum vitae format of so many is a bore to read while having little to do with the art itself. In a word, sum up both this and the artist as eclectic- perhaps eccentric. Initially a painter and traditional printmaker, in the 1980’s Charles began to explore ways to create high quality images using copy machines and has made several editions. In 1995, he embraced computer graphics. Photography remains prominent in his recent work, as does whimsical illustration and whatever else fits in. The possibilities to tie it all together digitally is truly exhilarating. The only things as rewarding to him are Kathy and the cats.
Charles exhibits in the Museum of Computer Art (MOCA) of which this is a distinguished member website