News Column

Gallery owner passes on his artistic legacy to his family

September 5, 2014

By Kathleen Luppi, Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Sept. 05--Artistic talent runs in the Pabst family. And that gift of creativity starts with Dad.

As soon as Arizona-based artist Charles Pabst could hold a pencil, he began drawing and painting. At age 14, the art enthusiast moved on from hobbyist with the sale of his first artwork -- for $50. He hasn't stopped painting and inspiring since.

That talent has been passed on to his son, Michael, and daughter, Cara Pabst Moran, whom Charles mentored once the two started dabbling in painting.

Charles, who opened his first gallery in Scottsdale, Ariz., with wife Christine, was so successful in serving art collectors that he expanded in 2008 with the Signature Gallery's second location, this one in Laguna Beach. And even though he is only in Laguna part of the year, he enjoys being close to water and boats.

To commemorate the anniversary of the sale of his first painting 50 years ago, Charles and his son and daughter flew in Wednesday night from Arizona to present their new works, sign books and meet with collectors during the city's monthly First Thursdays Art Walk.


A family affair

A native of Santa Clara, Charles Pabst grew up in a household that appreciated all things cultural, from art to music to theater. At an early age, he picked up his grandmother's watercolors and began painting what he saw.

While he was growing up, his family's travels throughout the Southwest ignited his fascination with the beauty of the outdoors. During a trip to the Grand Canyon when he was 12, he promised himself he would return someday -- and he did, a student at Arizona State University, where he received a degree in fine arts.

While attending college, he met and fell in love with Christine Gose, a green-eyed brunette from New Mexico who was studying to become a nurse. They married in 1973, after graduating from ASU. The couple have five children, and the three oldest, Mark, Michael and Cara, each have six children of their own.

Today, the three oldest siblings are involved in the family business, with Mark as director of the Scottsdale gallery and overseer of sales in the three gallery locations, which now include Santa Fe, N.M.

The younger two, Elizabeth and Danny, are full-time college students who assist in the studio whenever they can. "The younger kids say, 'Oh, Mom, I'll wind up doing that some time soon,'" Christine said.

She added about her children, "They're all very different and they all blend well."

Michael and Cara followed in their father's footsteps as soon as they could hold a palette knife, which, unlike a paintbrush, builds a thick texture with oil paint.

"That's what everybody loves about [Charles]," said Laguna Beach-based Signature Gallery director Jessica Fry about Pabst's signature style.

Fry, 28, has known the Pabst family since she was 6 years old. She lived two houses down from the family in Arizona and babysat the two youngest children. She said she admires the father, daughter and son's impasto technique, which involves laying paint on canvas very thickly so that the brush strokes are visible. The paint can also be mixed on the canvas to change colors.

Masters like Rembrandt and Vermeer originally used the technique. Much later, impressionist Vincent van Gogh and abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning created canvases of rich impasto textures.

Said Fry of one of Charles' original artworks displayed in the gallery: "There is a painting that is over 20 pounds just in oil paint."


Raised on art

Michael and Cara's path in life is similar to their father's.

Michael, who shares Charles' appreciation of the Southwest, sold his first painting in Tucson at age 15. By 17, he was a featured artist at a gallery in Scottsdale.

Michael received his degree in structural engineering from the University of Arizona, but after working in the design and construction industry, he returned to his passion -- painting. He, his wife and six children live in Tempe.

Cara, a contemporary impressionist who specializes in vivid colors and texture, continued to paint while pursuing advanced studies. She graduated with a degree in art history from ASU and moved to Phoenix, where her main focus is raising her six children.

"They provide my greatest inspiration," she said on her website. "Their innocence and beauty bring me such a depth of hope and joy. I want to speak this joy in my paintings."

The immediate family of seven live within miles of each other. When not watching football games or exploring the outdoors, the trio of painters find nature scenes and moments of joy to capture in art.

"We've got a big family," Christine said. "A lot of them are artistic, and that's what makes us unique."


(c)2014 the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot (Costa Mesa, Calif.)

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Source: Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot (CA)

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