A major solo exhibition featuring over thirty paintings and assemblage works from the 1990s to the present. McCauley (from Mount Vernon) returned from the Midwest in 2008 after a distinguished teaching career. This exhibition includes work borrowed from the Hallie Ford Museum of Art (Willamette University, Salem, OR) and Rockford Art Museum (Rockford, Illinois).

Join us for our Meet the Artist series with Robert McCauley.



Robert McCauley

McCauley was born in 1946 and raised in Mount Vernon, WA. Coming from generations of loggers, his childhood was full of watching the forests fall, something that proved to be rather difficult.

Originally interested in oceanography, he switched to art in college. McCauley graduated from Western Washington University in 1969, and in 1972 was awarded his Master of Fine Arts Degree from Washington State University. 

McCauley became professor of art at Rockford College in Illinois (now Rockford University) in 1972. In 1982 he received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Over the years he also received a fellowship in painting from the Illinois Arts Council, and a research grant (on Kwakwaka’wakw Culture, Vancouver Island) from Rockford. He served for many years as Art Department Chair at Rockford, until he retired in 2008. 

Throughout his career, McCauley has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and represented by several galleries nationally. Since returning to Mount Vernon in 2008 he continues to paint full-time.

McCauley’s work is represented locally by Linda Hodges Gallery (Seattle, WA), and nationally by Gail Severn Gallery (Ketchum, ID), Valley Fine Arts (Aspen, Colorado), Visions West Contemporary (Colorado, Wyoming and Montana), and Altamira Fine Art (Wyoming and Arizona).



Robert McCauley: American Fiction

Robert McCauley’s solo exhibition American Fiction features work from the 1990s forward. McCauley’s main themes revolve around worlds in collision, addressing topics of cultural displacement and destruction, as well as our relationships with nature and the environment. He speaks to global issues, yet his art has a distinctive Northwest feeling with iconic and familiar subjects such as bears, mountains, and long-lost fishing holes.

McCauley draws from various themes and periods in Western art history and literature. He employs a Luminist style in his romantic yet somber paintings, and easily jumps to the surreal with juxtapositions of the natural world and humankind. He belies the casual viewer through his quirky senses of endearment and humor, but he will lead the more curious and willing into deeper layers of meaning.

The artist challenges past beliefs which resulted in mandates such as ‘Manifest Destiny’ and ‘Westward Ho.’ 

McCauley’s artwork nods to the writings of philosophers such as Umberto Eco (Foucault’s Pendulum) who said, “Everything is repeated, in a circle. History is a master because it teaches us that it doesn’t exist. It’s the permutations that matter.”

Viewers often experience the sensation of being watched – McCauley’s paintings seem to cast a gaze, and we are momentarily still. We are caught in the moment, suspended in limbo, and pointed towards an uncertain future. McCauley wants us to revisit and question history, so we can collectively forge a better destiny.

American Fiction features over thirty-five paintings, drawings, and assemblage works borrowed from regional and national collectors, art museums, galleries and McCauley’s personal collection. The largest artwork, Smallpox Drawings, features nine mixed media drawings, recalling the smallpox outbreaks of the early 1860s that decimated indigenous coastal populations from Victoria, B.C. to Alaska. Beautifully rendered yet ambiguous, they bear witness to life-changing times in this region and the ethics of conquest.

We chose to feature McCauley for his unique way of engaging visitors of all ages and backgrounds, and because his work is such a great fit for our art museums’ missions.

We appreciate your participation in this solo exhibition. We look forward to your feedback and ideas!

Greg Robinson, Chief Curator
Bainbridge Island Museum of Art


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