Charley Stagg

 

        Charles Stagg was born in Beaumont, Texas in 1939 and grew up on a hog farm in nearby Vidor. After finishing high school, Stagg joined the Army and served in occupied Berlin. He spent most of his military career touring military bases throughout Europe as a member of the 3rd Armored Division Choir. During these travels, he became fascinated with the medieval art and architecture he saw along the way and marveled at the skill and balance with which ancient stone cathedrals were constructed without internal reinforcements.

        After his military career he returned to live in East Texas where he worked on construction projects and at an oil refinery. Several years later he attended college on the GI Bill and then went to live in a house he built in the woods in Washington State where he began to paint. Tragically, all of his work from this period was destroyed in a house fire. In 1982, Stagg returned to East Texas and began building a concrete dome in what had once been the fields of the family hog farm but was then overgrown with scrubby woods. While clearing trees from the land for his dome and living compound, he began experimenting with stacking logs in patterns and began making artwork based on what he soon came to call his "unit structures," with each log or twig shaped into a standard "unit." The sinuous meanderings of his triangular columns are thus naturally determined by the eccentricities of the wood itself. As the columns rise, their graceful forms and sinewy surfaces seem to come alive, as if they were not only magnificent constructions but magical and earthy wonders.