Chair, 1962 (KD08)
Oil on canvas
Image size: 73.5 X 66.5
Frame size: 75.25 X 68.25
In 1955 at age 18 McGaw came to Oakland’s California College of Arts and Crafts (now the California College of the Arts) and was in the institution’s first class taught by Richard Diebenkorn after Diebenkorn’s return to California from the East Coast. McGaw’s paintings during the mid-1950s reflect an interest in later Abstract Expressionist styles, with lush colors and loose, spirited forms. By 1957, McGaw had moved more deeply into representational work and the handling of the human figure that would come drive his work for the next half-century. This energetic observational direction drew from the energy of the other Bay Area figurative artists active at the time including David Park (painter) and Elmer Bischoff.
In describing his relationship to teaching and his own painting practice McGaw states, “Painting is one of the oldest of human activities and remains vital and essential. Its wonder is related to the challenges and difficulties of its physical limitations, its constrained format and fixed facture, always totally present, a poetry of sight. Painting taps the deepest and most considered resources of its maker.”
McGaw’s work consists largely of medium to large-scale oil paintings and charcoal drawings featuring human figures in moments of quite repose, still lives of vignettes found often in his studio and landscapes capturing the powerful light of the San Francisco Bay Area cast on the mixed industrial and working-class suburbs of East Bay towns like Emeryville, California. An avid student of art history and poetry he cites significant texts and relationships with colleagues among the most important influences in his studio practice.
McGaw continues to paint and draw in the studio he built in 1990 in the Oakland Hills.