Robert McCauley Biography

Born and raised in Mt. Vernon, Washington, Robert McCauley has been influenced by the Northwest Coast culture in his artwork. Originally an oceanography major at Western Washington University, he switched to art when he realized that oceanographers have to work in labs. Later, hearing that it was best to go east for grad school, he went all the way to eastern Washington to attend Washington State University. After getting an MFA in 1972, he settled in Illinois to teach at Rockford College. After a long and distinguished career as a professor and chairman of the art department, McCauley returned to his beloved Skagit Valley to live and work.

While McCauley’s paintings, drawings, installations and mixed media works are rooted in the tradition of 19th century American Romanticism, his narratives are contemporary, timely and relevant. Through the metaphorical juxtaposition of found objects, inscribed texts on frames and ambiguous titles, McCauley addresses a wide variety of contemporary themes and issues, including cultures in collision, environmental ethics, humankind’s impact on nature and the appropriation of nature in art.

McCauley’s paintings are sometimes ambiguous, but not so much that no meaning comes across. Returning to his childhood haunts each summer has shown the artist how much things keep changing. “The salmon streams I fished in are silted up and have no more salmon,” he says. “The Native Americans used to set a trap of chicken wire a half mile out to sea, and I would watch the salmon in the trap in awe. That’s gone. Even the huge fishing resorts are gone because the fish are gone. Clear-cutting is still common. A small greenbelt of ten feet on either side of the roads makes you think you’re looking at forest, but beyond that it’s just devastation.”

MFA, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington
BA, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington

Professor and Chairman, Art Department, Rockford College (retired)

“Rear View Mirror:  Robert McCauley from the Rockford Art Museum collection, 2010
Retrospective, Hallie Ford Museum, Oregon, 2009
Ball State University, 2006
"Robert McCauley: Alone in the Wilderness", 30 year retrospective, Rockford Art Museum, 2006, catalog
"Trusting Woods to Tempest Sea: Robert McCauley", Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto, Ca, 2005
Bank of America, San Francisco, 2001
Aurora Public Art Commission, Aurora, Illinois, 2000
Illinois Wesleyan University, 1998
Northern Illinois University, 1998
Whatcom Museum of Art, Bellingham, Washington, 1997-98
West Virginia University, Morgantown, 1993
Parkland College, Champaign, Illinois, 1993
University of Notre Dame, South Bend, 1992
“Robert McCauley: Sculpture & Drawings”, Sonoma State University, 2-year traveling,
Dennis Adrian catalog, 1989-91.
Columbus Cultural Center, Columbus, Ohio, 1989
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 1983
“Magic Shows”, Northern Illinois University, 1983
“Robert McCauley: Towers”, Chicago Cultural Center, 1982
Eberdt Gallery, Marycrest College, Iowa, 1982
Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois, 1981
Western Washington University, Bellingham, 1979
Bradley University, Peoria, 1978
Contemporary Art Workshop, Chicago, 1978
Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, 1977
Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Indiana, 1977
Denison University, Granville, Ohio, 1976
Illinois Arts Council, Chicago, 1975

“Wild/Life”, Museum of Northwest Art, curated, LaConner, WA, 2011
“Critical Messages: Contemporary Northwest Artists on the Environment”, traveling to Western Washington University, Willamette University, and Boise State, 2010-2011, catalog.
“Moby-Dick: Heart of the Sea”, Rockford Art Museum, 2009.
"Magnificent Extravagance: Artists and Opulence", Racine Art Museum, 2005.
"Mark My Word: Text, Code and Literary Allusion”, Museum of Northwest Art, 2004.
“A Sofa and...”, curated, Western Washington University, Bellingham, 2003.
“ Framing the Wild:  Animals on Display”, University of Wyoming, traveling, 2002-03
"Chicago Art Expo”, 1999-03 (also 1981-94)
“ Wild Life: The Other Tradition”, Invitational, Polk Museum of Art, Florida, 2002
“Underfoot”, curated, catalog, Sao Paulo, Brazil, traveling, 2001-2004
“ Departure: American Contemporary Landscape”, curated, IUN Gallery for Contemporary Art, Gary, Indiana, 2001
Faculty Exhibition, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Aspen, 2001
“ The History of Art in Rockford”, Rockford Art Museum, 2000
“ The Great Novel”, Palo Alto Art Center, 2000
“Notable Alumni in the Visual Arts”, Centennial Celebration, Western Washington University, Bellingham, 2000
“The View from Here: 100 Artists Mark the Centennial of Mt. Rainier National Park”, Seafirst Gallery, Seattle, traveling, 1998-01
“Countdown: The Millennium Show”, K. Kimpton Contemporary Art, San Francisco, 1999
“ Twenty Years/Twenty Artists”, Sonoma State University, 1998
“ A Thought Intercepted: A Survey of Drawings by Artists in the U.S.”,
California Museum of Art, Santa Rosa, 1997
“ Bio-Adversity”, Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, 1997
“Mythic Narrative”, Palo Alto Cultural Center, 1996
“Unpainted to the Last: Moby-Dick and American Art, 1940-1990”, 2-year traveling, text, 1995-96
“SOFA” Exposition, Chicago Navy Pier, (installation piece), 1995
“Exploring Natural Imagery: Works by Four Midwestern Artists”, Quincy Art Center, Quincy, Illinois, 1995
“Illinois Art Faculty: A Statewide Survey”, Rockford Art Museum, 1995
“U.S.A. Within Limits”, Galeria Millan, Sao-Paulo, Brazil, 1995
“Ex Libris: An Exhibition of Artists’ Books”, Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, 1995
“The Art of Language”, St. Paul Insurance Companies, 1994
“No Feathers: Manifest Destiny Indicted”, catalog, Rockford College,1994
“The Object Redux: Re Used, Re Newed, & Re Invented”, catalog, Wustum Museum of Art, Racine, WI, 1994
“Artfair/Seattle”, 1996 (also 1992-95)
“Aquatic Visions”, Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, 1993
“Book, Box, Word”, Center for Contemporary Art, Miami, 1993
“Art L.A.92”, International Art Expo, Los Angeles,1992
“Shipwreck”, Kirkland Arts Center, Kirkland, Washington, 1992
“The Sign of the Cross”, Jamison Thomas Gallery, Portland, Oregon, 1992
“Sculptors on Paper”, traveling, University of Wisconsin, 1992
“Beyond the Frame: Techniques and Expressions in Sculpture”, Alza Corporation, Palo Alto, 1990
“The Making of a Legend: Chief Seattle’s Reply”, Hatley-Martin Gallery, San Francisco, 1990
“Nature/Nature”, University of Chicago, 1990
“Partners in Purchase: Selected Works, 1976-87”, catalog, Lakeview Museum,1990
“Selections from the Roy Boyd Gallery”, Grand Valley State University, 1990
“Deep Woods: Concerning Nature in Recent Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture”, 2-year traveling, catalog, Tweed Museum, Duluth, 1989-91
“Made in America: The Great Lakes States”, Alternative Museum, New York, catalog, traveling, 1986
“Contemporary Screens”, Art Museum Association of America, traveling, catalog, 1986-89
“Sculptor’s Drawings”, Sonoma State University, traveling, catalog, 1986-88
“Chicago Draws”, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, 1986
“Forum”, Zurich, Switzerland, 1986
“Whirlpool Foundation Sculpture Competition”, traveling, Chicago, 1986
“Materials in Media”, Evanston Art Center, Evanston, Illinois, 1986
“Fetish: Obsessive Expressions”, Rockford Art Museum, 1986
“Exterior/Interior: Large Scale Sculpture”, catalog, Rockford Art Museum, 1986
Stux Gallery Group Exhibition, New York, 1985
“Menagerie”, San Francisco International Airport, 1985
“Artists Look at Architecture”, Transamerica Pyramid, San Francisco, 1985
“Nocturnal Images”, catalog, Paine Art Center, Oshkosh, traveling, 1985
“The Object Transformed”, Jan Cicero Gallery, Chicago, 1985
“Salvo”, Ruth Siegel Gallery, New York, 1984
“Alternative Spaces: A History in Chicago”, catalog, MCA, Chicago, 1984
“Construction”, San Francisco International Airport, 1984
“Chicago International Sculpture/Mile 2”, catalog, Chicago Navy Pier, 1984
“New Directions in Pastel”, Rahr-West Museum, catalog, 1984
“Chicago: Emerging Visions”, Paine Art Center, Oshkosh, 1984
“Five Sculptural Artists”, Cerritos College, California, 1984
“Twenty Illinois Painters”, Springfield Art Museum, catalog, 1984
“The Artist Collects”, Illinois Arts Council, traveling, 1983
“Shelters”, Evanston Art Center, Evanston, Illinois, 1983
“Works on Paper”, Roy Boyd Gallery, Chicago, 1983
“Mayor Byrne’s Mile of Sculpture”, Chicago Navy Pier, catalog, 1982
“New Horizons in Art”, Chicago Cultural Center, 1982
“Drawing from Chicago”, University of Nebraska, catalog, 1982
“78th Exhibition by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity”, John G. Curtis Award, catalog, Art Institute of Chicago, 1981
“Objects to Ponder”, Columbia College, Chicago, 1980
“Best of the Midwest”, Artists Guild of Chicago, 1980
“Illinois % for the Arts”, Eastern Illinois University, 1980
“6/6”, ARC Gallery, Chicago, 1979
“75th and 76th Exhibitions by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity”, catalog, Art Institute of Chicago, 1975, 1976

Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in PAINTING, 1999
Research Grant, Kwakwaka’wakw Culture, Vancouver Island,
Rockford College, 1994
Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in DRAWING, 1991
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in DRAWING, 1982
Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in SCULPTURE, 1981
Illinois Arts Council Completion Grant, SCULPTURE, 1980

              U.S. Embassy, Romania, 5 paintings, 2011
McCormick Place Expansion, Chicago, 2005-2007
State of Illinois, Outdoor Sculpture Commission, Northern Illinois University, 1996
Imagery Wine Labels, 1989, 1996, 2001, 2010, Benziger Winery, Sonoma, California
Art on the River, Outdoor Sculpture Commission, Rock River, Rockford, 1989

Guest Curator, “Rockford Collects”, Rockford Art Museum, 2002
Guest Curator, “Customized Culture”, Rockford Art Museum, 2002
Imagery Studio, Benzinger Winery, California, 2001
Anderson Ranch, Aspen, 2001
Columbia College, Chicago, 2000
Ball State University, 1997
Art Institute of Chicago, 1996
Curator, “Small Wonders”, San Francisco Craft and Folk Art Museum, 1996
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 1995
West Virginia University, Morgantown, 1993
University of Notre Dame, South Bend, 1992
University of Illinois, Champaign, 1992
“Artfair/Seattle”, interviewed, 1992
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, 1990
California State University, Stanislaus, at Turlock, 1989
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 1989
Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, 1989
Spazio Umano, International Review of Art and Literature, #1, 1987
Art Institute of Chicago,1983