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From Architect to Artist: Public Art by Charles Bergen, AIA

Charles Bergen, AIA practiced architecture for 22 years until his lifelong passion for art intervened. After two summer residencies at Salem Art Works in upstate New York, Charles founded his art practice and began a career as a professional sculptor. Over several years, Bergen experimented with a range of materials—mostly metal and wood—and subjects: animals such as birds, dolphins, and fish; and figures like Chuck Brown and Theodore Roosevelt. Additionally, he proposed sculptural signage identifying “Barracks Row” and “Capitalsaurus Chasing a Falcarius.”

In recent years, Bergen’s practice has focused on public art projects, many of which were awarded through public commissions. Notable projects include the narrative Centennial Artwork for the City of Bowie, Maryland and fire and police call boxes-turned artworks for Rhode Island Avenue NE Main Street. One of Bergen’s most celebrated and talked about projects is the “Barnes Dance,” also known as a pedestrian scramble, with its whimsical graphic of dragons and Chinese zodiac images at the intersection of 7th and H Streets NW in Washington, DC’s Chinatown.

Bergen’s affection for animals and nature, combined with history, is evidenced in his body of work with sculptures that appear playful and decorative, yet serious and functional. With his artwork, he manages to strike a balance between imagery and narrative, demonstrating just enough to invite curiosity, imply a story, and inspire appreciation. This exhibition presents drawings, photographs, and objects from selected projects completed by the artist since 2014.


From Architect to Artist: Public Art by Charles Bergen, AIA is organized by AIA|DC for the Suman Sorg Gallery in collaboration with the artist.

This exhibition was designed and modeled in ArchiCAD19, courtesy of Graphisoft.

Generously supported in part by BluEdge.

Installation by Tim Anderson.

See more photos by Victoria Pickering.

Special thanks from the artist to:
Aaron Rogers, Adams Morgan Partnership BID, Amber Logan, Amin Abdullah, Anacostia Arts Center, Annie's Ace Hardware, Artsee, Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS, Brad Sargent, Brandon Bailey Art, Brian Barrie, Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, Carla Perlo, Cheryl Edwards, Chris Earley, Chris Shaheen, Christopher Harding, CulturalDC, Dance Loft on 14, Dance Place, Darian Lassiter, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, DC Office of Planning, District Department of Transportation, DowntownDC BID, Fabritek, Franciso Murillo, George Branyan, Giannettii Architectural Sculpture, Girikul Kulkarni, Greg Staley Photography, Hakeem Olayinka, HEP Construction, Independent Custom Metalworks, Jerrald Musser of Cutting Unlimited LLC, Judy Estey, Justin Fair, Kay Christy, Keast & Hood, Keona Pearson, Kristen Barden, Kyle Todd, Laran Bronze, Lauren Glover, Len Adams of Mid-Atlantic Welding & Fabrication Inc., Liam O'Connor, Linton Engineering, Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program, Mulheron Tree Experts, My Splash Pad, Patrick's Petcare, Prologue DC LLC, Rare Earth Metals, Raymond Kaskey, Rayseen Woodland, Ron Humbertson, Salem Art Works, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Stephanie Reyes, Stephen and Ginny Bergen, Stuart Eisenburg, Studio39 Landscape Architecture, Sujatha Jahagirdar, Todd Angelo Albin, Tonya Jordan, Train Printing, Tsahai Pettiford, and Washington Sculptors Group