Encountering Charles Goolsby’s recent works is an opportunity to connect everyday familiar experiences with a dramatic neo-Romantic painting approach that transforms the canvas into a world that places viewers, front and center, to ponder the effects of a shifting landscape. When his family relocated from Michigan to Virginia decades ago, he could not ignore the natural environment, especially after having spent his early youth in a concrete-dominated suburb outside of Detroit. He sees his canvases simultaneously as physical objects and visual illusions capable of tensions that provide frameworks for emotional responses.
Goolsby sees art history as an important part of a dialogue for creating new work, admiring masters such as George Bellows, Edward Hopper and painters of 19th century American landscape painting. He initially studied painting and printmaking at Radford University, achieving the Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Art with Honors. After several years of Public School teaching, he returned to the academy for a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Art from James Madison University. Since that time, he has mentored students as an art professor at Emory & Henry College where he was awarded the Agnes and Allen Rowlett Chair of Creative Studies and currently serves as the Chair of Visual & Performing Arts. As part of his quest for understanding, Goolsby’s art travels have taken him to Italy, Greece, France and China. At various points, all of these experiences have emerged in his painting and printmaking.
Goolsby’s numerous honors include the coveted professional visual arts fellowship from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; a fellowship and residency from the Ucross Foundation; three residencies and two full-fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center; two residencies and fellowships from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; and a residency and fellowship from Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation. In addition, he was selected as a resident associate artist by the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida where he worked with internationally acclaimed artist Donald Sultan. He served as a fellow at VCCA-France at Le Moulin à Nef, a studio center in the Gascon village of Auvillar. In 2019, Goolsby completed a residency at the Cité Internationale des arts in Paris. Three of Goolsby's oil paintings were included in the 2002 Southeastern edition of the highly selective journal, New American Paintings. One of Goolsby's paintings was featured in Oxford American Magazine's Fall 2005 issue on Southern Art and Architecture. His art appeared on the April 1989 cover of School Arts Magazine. In 2021 two of his paintings were published in Creative Quarterly: The Journal of Art and Design. In 2015 the Arts Alliance of the Mountain Empire awarded Goolsby an Arts Achievement Award for his significant contribution as a studio artist and teacher to the region of Southwestern Virginia.
Goolsby's work has been featured in more than 45 solo exhibitions throughout the southeastern United States at various college, university, fine arts center, museum and commercial galleries. Blue Spiral I, in Asheville, North Carolina represents his work. His work has received awards in numerous regional and national juried exhibitions throughout the United States. His work is included in a number of public, private and corporate collections throughout the United States. A serious practitioner of painting, Goolsby dedicates a serious portion of each day to the practice of painting in his studio located near Emory, Virginia.