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Charles Searle (1937-2004)

February 28, 2013

This spring, the Philadelphia area will be treated to four exhibitions, one of which opens March 13 at our member site La Salle University Art Museum, celebrating the work of renowned local artist Charles Searles (1937 – 2004). Born in Philadelphia and a graduate of Salsburger High School, Searles worked with his father, learning carpentry and house painting before enlisting in the armed forces in order to provide for his family. Following his service, Searles was educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) from 1967-1972 where he received both the Cresson Memorial Travel Scholarship and the Ware Memorial Travel Scholarship, the latter of which he used to travel to West Africa (Ghana & Nigeria). After returning from Africa, Searles began teaching at the Ile Ife Cultural Center in Germantown, which had become the epicenter of the “Afro-American Art” scene in the 1960’s. It was while teaching here that he began work on his “Dancer” series.

Charles Searles

Charles Searles

Over the course of his career, Searles participated in over 60 group shows and 25 solo exhibitions. His work can be seen in the Dallas, Montclair, Afro-American and Charlottenborg (Denmark) Museums – not to mention the Smithsonian Institution. Regionally, his sculptural work can be seen in five aluminum sculptures for the Delaware River Port Authority, five interior bronze sculptures for the NYC Mass Transit Authority, an exterior bronze for the First District Plaza in Philadelphia, and a painted aluminum relief for Amtrak’s Newark New Jersey Station.

Information about this spring’s events are listed below, further information about Searles’ life and work can be found at (the webpage of his widow).

  • January through May
    Tuttleman Sculpture Gallery of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
    New Depths (1989). A large wall sculpture created by Searles after he moved from Philadelphia to New York.
    For information, fees & hours please visit
  • March 11 – May 31 (Opening reception on March 13th, 5-7pm)
    LaSalle University Art Museum (19th St. & Olney Avenue)
    Charles Searles: The Mask of Abstraction. Developed as part of a LaSalle University Fine Arts Department exhibition seminar, students from LaSalle University and Chestnut Hill College wrote text panels, produced scholarly essays for the exhibition catalogue and participated in the exhibition layout.
    Highlights include an illustrated lecture from Searles’ widow Kathleen Spicer on March 14th (1-2pm) and a lecture from Philadelphia gallery owner Sande Webster (April 11th, 1-2pm).
    For information, fees & hours please visit
  • March 25 – June 15 (Opening reception on April 220th, 5:30-7:30pm)
    Woodmere Art Museum
    Charles Searles: A Focus on the Figure. The Woodmere Art Museum presents an exhibition of Searles’ early work, especially his interest in the human figure. The works portray images of Searles’ family as well as models and people he encountered. The exhibition allows visitors to witness the evolution of Searles’ figurative art.
    For information, fees & hours please visit
  • April 20 – June 16
    Temple University’s Tyler School of Art’s Atrium
    Charles Searles: In Motion. In Motion offers visitors large-scale paintings, sculptures and a student-produced film showcasing Searles’ stylistic shift from form to movement.
    Highlights include a Cross-Disciplinarian Arts Symposium called “Call and Response” featuring artists, performers, and scholars from different branches of the performing arts (April 20th, 1-5:30pm).
    For information, fees & hours please visit
2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2013 7:27 pm

    There always seems to be more to learn about Germantown history! Never heard of Charles Searles OR the Ile Ife Cultural Center. What an amazing place we live in.


  1. An exhibit of Charles Searles’ figurative art | Auction Finds

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