Charles A. Fries [1854-1940] was an American artist who holds a high place in the California school of Impressionism. Young Charles Fries was born August 14, 1854 in Hillsboro, Ohio. He trained at the McMicken School of Design, later known as the Cincinnati Art Academy, and he also trained under C. T. Weber portraitist. He was known to have studio locations in New York and San Diego, and residences in San Juan Capistrano and San Diego, California.
Influenced to relocate to the West by the historian Charles Lummis, and motivated by the fragile health of his wife, Fries moved his family from New England to southern California's healthy climate, first settling on the premises of the historic Mission San Juan Capistrano, and later moving to San Diego in 1897.
Charles Fries was frequently seen painting in the plein air style near the coast and inland areas of southern California -- the reverence Fries felt for the California landscape can be seen in his depictions capturing the cool atmospheric effects of the coastal landscapes of Torrey Pines to the subtle beauty of the arid southern California deserts. Reginald Poland of the San Diego Museum of Arts was quoted as saying, "Mr. Fries works are not sensational; they suggest no attempt to be the greatest pictures on earth, nor do they boast cleverness, nor suave, inveigling, surface charm. They are honest straightforward, substantial pictures of handsome scenes, every bit of whose beauty is revealed to all...we know of no one who can so well picture the southern California desert". He died December 15, 1940 in San Diego, California.
Fries paintings can be found in the following museums: Fleischer Museum, Arizona; Desert Caballeros Western Museum, Arizona; Irvine Museum, Irvine, California; San Diego Museum of Art.
Charles Fries was active in the southern California art community, he held memberships in the Associated Artists of San Diego (Contemporary Artists of San Diego) and the San Diego Fine Arts Society. He won the following awards: Silver Medal, Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle, 1909, the Silver Medal, Fine Arts Association, Seattle, 1911, and the Silver Medal at the Panama-California Exposition, San Diego, California.
This biography has been authored by Lawrence Beebe