Charles Lloyd Heinz (1884 - 1953) was a prominent artist from Shelbyville, Illinois, who left school after the eighth grade and later studied under Robert Root. Although Heinz never reached the local prominence of Root, his works are still found in area homes and are still collected nationwide.
An article about Heinz dated January 5, 1936, appeared in the Shelbyville Union written by “A Special Correspondent to the Illinois Magazine.”
“Shelbyville Artist Wins Recognition After 30 Years Hard Work.”
“Shelbyville has awakened to find one of its sons famous. Charles L. Heinz, ex-farmer, ex-engraver, ex-sign painter and, for the moment, ex-resident of Shelbyville, has been revealed to the ‘folks’ among whom he grew up as a noted artist, a man whose work is regarded as being of a definite ‘school.’
‘Charles Heinz? Sure – Louie Heinz’s boy. He was born and raised out here – used to go to Cusaac School. The old timers remembered him well. Yeah, he took to sign-paintin’ and farmin’ for a livin’. He always was awful good drawer in school…so Louie Heinz’s boy was a real artist, eh? Well, waddya know?’
Charles Heinz is indeed a real artist; if the recognition and honors he has received are any guide. He has exhibited in the Chicago Art Institute, in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, in the National Academy of Design in New York, and in the Corcoran Gallery in Washington. One does not ask to exhibit in those places; one is invited by a jury of competent critics. Naturally the competition for admission is intense, even bitter.
New York critics have praised the sound craftsmanship of his canvases. Young painters come to Provincetown, Mass., to the art colony where he spends much of his time. Heinz considered himself to be a painter in the conservatist group although he was criticized by locals because of his slightly impressionistic style which rendered his paintings ‘out of focus.’
The homespun Heinz also spent time farming when he was not painting. ‘After (studying under Root) I went to the St. Louis School of Fine Arts. Then there was 10 or 12 years that I took to farmin’ because I couldn’t make a livin’ at paintin’.’ Said Heinz.
Perhaps Heinz might be better known among his own people if he had tried to act the part of an artist a little more. Such, however, is not his way. He prefers to dress in old clothes, to keep to himself, to work hard at his painting. Besides, he has had to work too hard for a living to have had much time for display.
His studio probably started life as a washhouse. Widows have been let into the north side – a painter must have a north light – and Heinz has lettered ‘Charles L. Heinz Studio’ on the whitewashed planks. It stands out in the pasture, and the chickens peck at the ground around it. No picture-book artist, with Van Dyke beard, smock, and beret, comes to meet you. The man who appears is dressed like a farm hand. His trousers have been innocent of creases for months, and the bottoms are muddy. He peers out at you a little uncertainly from under an old brown cap; then, if he recognizes you, his shrewd eyes lighten and he smiles.
Heinz is quoted as saying, ‘Well, I always did like to draw. I used to go to Cusaac country school out here, and I always drew a lot. No, I never went to school after the eighth grade, but I’ve read a lot. I think I’ve read everything good that’s been written, nearly. After that (St. Louis School of Fine Art) I studied in the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, under Reynolds – Wellington J. Reynolds – and Walter Goldbeck. Then I had to go back to farmin’ for about 10 years more. Finally I went to Provincetown to the Cape Cod School of Art under Richard E. Miller. I’ve exhibited all over the country. My first exhibit was in Peoria. I’ve had pictures in the Decatur Art Institute, too. I’ve exhibited in Lincoln, Neb., Provincetown, Mass., of course, and pretty much everywhere.’
One cannot talk for a moment with Charles Heinz without realizing that he is different. There is a shy, direct simplicity about the man, which invites your closest attention. There is hesitancy as he tries to translate for you the fundamentals which he sees so readily, understands so clearly.
Heinz said one of his ambitions was to study abroad. ‘I always admired Rembrandt’s work – the ones I’ve seen in this country. And then I liked the drawings that William Blake made to illustrate his poems. I’d like to go to Europe some time and see the works of the Old Italian Masters, too. They’re supposed to be pretty good.’
There is no trace of impatience in the mild-mannered, blue-eyed man. When one has given more than 30 years of his life to mastery of infinite detail, time doesn’t matter – only beauty.”
Biographical essay excerpted from an article by John Carswell, Shelbyville Daily Union Staff Writer.
Published March 01, 2007 - “1936 Article Praised Art of Charles Heinz”
1928, 1937-38,and 1942 AIC
1929-32, 1937-38 and 1940 NAD
1930,1932, and 1939 PAFA
1930,1935,1937,1939,1943,1947 Corcoran Gallery
SC (prize in 1939)
1941, 1943-45 Carnegie Institute
At PAAM annually
Springfield Museum of Art
Shelby County Court House