Catron creates art for art’s sake. He’s not
one for galleries or self-promotion; he doesn’t
advertise or entertain. He creates sculptures from a variety
of mediums, using ancient Greek mythology, the human form
and nature as his subjects, and is happy to sell his work
to those familiar with and desirous of his creations.
Charlie grew up in Moab and learned to use the local clays
for pottery and ceramics from Delma Tangren, was trained
as a painter and worked as a commercial artist in the
aerospace industry in Southern California. He spent 10
years in the California University system “hunting
for teachers who had what I wanted to learn,” he
says, before settling into his work. He traveled later
to Minnesota, and learned to carve with pipestone when
a fire burned down the townhouse he shared with his wife,
Linda. They went to high school together in Moab, and
returned to their hometown in 1980, where they have lived
“I left here in 1951 in a dead run when I was 17
years old, and swore I’d never come back,”
Charlie says. “By the time the fire burned out our
home in Minneapolis, all we had left fit in the back of
a pick-up truck, and we headed home.”
Ceramic Sabre Tooth
For 50 years Charlie
said he has approached his art seriously, never being
as concerned with “being” an artist, as he
was “doing” art.
He carves and polishes pink alabaster from Escalante,
white alabaster from Castle Valley, pipestone from Minnesota,
and uses a unique technique he learned from the pioneer
of cast concrete, Paoli Soleri. Charlie studied with Paoli
in Arizona, and has since contracted a cast concrete work-in-progress
for the sculpture garden planned for the new City Hall
building site on Center Street.
Charlie’s day job is that of a printer, a trade
he has pursued in one way or another since the Vietnam
War, when he worked for the Navy Department and printed
“They didn’t like it but I had 10 years tenure
and they had to put up with me,” Charlie said. Before
the Moab Ad-Vertiser building caught fire Charlie was
Marge and Larry Fleener’s in-house graphic artists
for 12 years, and continues to work the presses at the
Ad-Vertiser/Moab Printing Place today. He owns a 3,000-pound
letterset press salvaged from that fire and hopes to put
it to use one day, and still prints his own Christmas
cards every year.
“I’ve always been involved in printing and
always had a desire to be a printer,” he said. One
of Charlie’s ceramic pieces – a saber tooth
cat skull – had such a likeness to the real thing
an archeologist tried to buy it from its owner. He mixes
ceramics and metals, does watercolors that look like photographs
and makes amazingly detailed pipes from pipestone. He’s
participated in one local Art Walk and had a show at the
Dan O’Laurie Canyon Country Museum 20 years ago.
The last gallery Charlie worked with was the One-Shot
Gallery, long-since closed.
the company of other artists because a lot of people are
serious about being an artist but they’re not serious
about art,” Charlie says.
Charlie’s Sandbox Studio was named after Linda watched
her husband carry silt back and forth in buckets to a
pile he leveled out in his yard for use in the concrete
“You look like you’re playing in a sandbox,”
she said to him.
“I said, ‘Yes, this is my sandbox studio’,”
Charlie maintains that most of his art is “banned
in Moab,” probably because of nudity and mythological
depictions. What isn’t banned is in living rooms,
backyards and offices around town and across the country,
where by word of mouth or lucky coincidence an art lover
becomes familiar with Charlie Catron’s work.
He is accessible,
however, by calling the Sandbox Studio at 259-8743.