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New England Sculptors Association

GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA
June 23, 2010

A sculptor's tales: Charles Fields' memoir portrays living, working by the sea

By Gail McCarthy 
Staff Writer

Charles Fields was born by the sea, made a life from the sea and is forever influenced by the sea.

Fields, who ran the New England Lobster Co. for 30 years in Pigeon Cove, now spends his time in retirement, writing poems and creating sculpture.

He has dozens of stories from growing up in Rockport, where he spent time in local artists' studios, and his years traveling the country and the globe, at one point aboard a United Fruit banana boat.

Now, this member of the Rockport, North Shore and Cambridge art associations as well as the New England Sculptors Association, has completed a memoir. In "Many Lands, Many Hearts," he uses the pages as a palette of his stories, stemming from his many careers and travels.

After losing the Rockport-based lobster company to bankruptcy, he worked in the Essex chicken hatchery and then turned permanently to his pursuit of fine art. A fan of Gloucester's Walker Hancock, he would later meet the sculptor and introduce him to a noted native American sculptor out west.

"Growing up on Cape Ann had a tremendous influence. I personally knew and was exposed to the sculpture of Richard Rechia, Walker Hancock, George Demetrios and George Aarons. I practically spent my boyhood years in Aldro Hibbard's studio," he said. Hibbard, a prominent American painter, was a founder of the Rockport Art Association.

Born at Addison Gilbert Hospital in 1936, Fields was educated in Rockport's public schools.

But he attended Gloucester High for his last two years, graduating as class president in 1954.

He attended Duke University in Durham, N.C., on a Francis Ouimet Scholarship and transferred to Massachusetts Maritime Academy where he earned a degree in marine and electrical engineering. He was commissioned as ensign in the Navy and received a U.S. Coast Guard Third Assistant Marine Engineer license. Later, he sailed as an engineer for the United Fruit Co. and then worked as a safety engineer for an insurance company.

When his first marriage failed, he returned to the sea, working on ships, including tankers, cargo, and passenger ships. In 1966 he returned to Rockport where he incorporated the New England Lobster Co. on Pigeon Cove Wharf.

The business survived many vicissitudes and unpredictable weather — to a point.

"There were several storms, one that took everything in 1978," he recalled. "I rebuilt. Then during the storm of 1991, the seas came over the wall and came right through the building.

"At that point, I wondered, 'What am I doing — is this a sign?'" he continued. "But I was too stubborn to give in."

A few years later, the costs were too high and the lobster company went into bankruptcy in the mid-1990s. He then took on a job as hatchery manager for Hardy's chicken farm in Essex where he worked until he retired in 1999. After, he took to his art full-time.

"During my early working years, I took an interest in sculpting when a friend noticed I always expressed myself with dramatic hand gestures," he said. "At the time, I had writer's block with my poetry and it was suggested I try sculpting."

Fields began sculpting with clay before turning to rock.

"It was when I was discovering soapstone and carving to bring something out of the stone that I felt true expressive feeling," said Fields, who was accepted into the New England Sculptors Association in 1971.

"I soon moved up to carving marble, alabaster and wood," he said. "I juggled the challenging seafood business with sculpting as a way to harness my creative need and entrepreneurial drive."

Fields divides his time between Massachusetts and Arizona; it was through the latter that he came to know Allan Houser (1914-1994), a modernist sculptor who achieved prominence in the art world. Although a western-based artist, Houser's work can be seen at Foxwoods Casino.

Through Fields, Houser would also meet one of America's top sculptors, Walker Hancock (1901-1998), who lived in Lanesville.

Fields met Hancock and his wife through happenstance aboard an American Airlines flight from Boston to Phoenix where Hancock was working on a commission bust of publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg. Fields offered to show Hancock around the area, an invitation Hancock accepted.

"It was a great week of sharing thoughts and experiences," wrote Fields in his book.

He took Hancock to see Houser's work at a Scottsdale gallery.

"(Walker) was impressed beyond words," Fields recalled. "The style and use of the marble was foreign.

"When Walker and I attended an exhibition of Louise Nevelson at the Phoenix art museum, Allan was giving a demonstration of Indian flute playing," he added. "I introduced Walker to Houser and there was an immediate response. They just clicked."

After that week's visit, Hancock gave Fields a block of Italian Carrera marble. Field would work only years later when he believed he could create a piece worthy of that marble that carried so much meaning because of who it was from.

Fields notes that his motto is: "When the stone speaks, I listen."

As many Cape Ann residents know, it is difficult to travel anywhere without running into someone from Cape Ann.

In the 1970s, Fields met Peter Prybot, the Gloucester lobsterman and writer, at the Auckland Museum in New Zealand while he was looking at native Maori lobster pots and fishing gear. Fields was visiting his brother in New Zealand, and Prybot was on tour.

"It was the strangest thing," recalled Prybot. "I had my back to him viewing something and he was doing the exact same thing and we turned around at the same moment, perfectly in line. I looked at him and he looked at me and there was complete silence and disbelief," said Prybot, who used to sell lobsters to the New England Lobster Co. "I knew he used to sculpt and he knew I used to write."

The two men still run into each other on Cape Ann, and write in addition to their other work.

For more information on Fields' book, visit www.outskirtspress.com/manylandsmanyhearts.

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com

REVIEW: Broken Spirit
Charles L. Fields
Outskirts Press (2011)
ISBN 9781432779030

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (12/11)

Charles L. Fields is recognized for his unique style of writing. He draws on his own lifetime of experiences in world travel to develop the background material for these fictional adventures. This approach adds an appeal and realism to his current writing as evidences in the Charles Stone travel mystery novels. “Broken Spirit” is the third in this series and reintroduces some of the characters from the earlier books.

Fields uses a steady stream of light banter, colorful humor, subtle innuendo, and informational dialog to introduce and move the plot and to provide an in-depth look into the biographical background and character of the protagonist, Charles Stone. Stone is a Boston lawyer and sculptor.

Physically and mentally beat, after two harrowing assignments for the Franklin Life Insurance Company, Charles is ready for a much need vacation. He chooses Hawaii as his destination. Turmoil in the island paradise alters his plans and the designated time away from his office becomes a work vacation.

Religious differences, land ownership and tribe-versus-tribe issues all complicate the possibility of a peaceful resolution. Charles is called on to look into a radical group conspiring to use threats and violence to stir the native Islanders to secede Hawaii from statehood. The whole economy of Hawaii’s tourism, military efforts, and local businesses are in jeopardy. The Nation One secessionist movement is determined to make a statement. Stone becomes a catalyst in arbitration seeking resolution. As a result he is intimidated, cursed, and attacked.

I especially appreciated Fields’ careful use of detail to introduce Hawaiian folklore, tradition, and culture. His characters are easy to interact and identify with; as they are believable. Charles L. Fields is building a following of avid fans. “Broken Spirit” is destined to establish him as a trendsetter in the genre of the travel mystery action adventure novel. Readers will be pleased to know another sequel is in the works.

New post on Self Publishing News For Self-Publishing Authors
Self-Publishing Virtual Book Tour: Broken Spirit by Charles L. Fields

by Neeraj Sachdeva

As an author in this economy, you have to come up with creative ways to market a self-published book. While book tours are a great way to connect with your readers, they aren't the most affordable method of promotion. However, technology has made it possible for an alternative.

Take note from self-publishing Outskirts Press author, Charles L. Fields, who is taking his latest book, Broken Spirit, on tour - a virtual book tour, that is. He will be featured on several blogs over the weeks and months ahead so keep your eyes peeled to learn more about him and his book.

Luckily for us, Charles was kind enough to answer a few questions as the tour was getting started so that we can give you a sneak peek into the mind of the creator of Broken Spirit.

OP: Tell us a little bit about Broken Spirit. What is it about?

CLF: This is the third in the Charles Stone series and finds the protagonist involved with racial tension and an extreme secessionist movement in Hawaii. What is thought as a paradise becomes a tropical hell.

OP: Why did you decide to write this story?

CLF: I had left out a lot of my island experiences out of my memoirs and wanted to draw on personal travel adventures to create a dramatic fictional situation for my protagonist Charles Stone.

OP: What types of readers would be interested in this story?

CLF: My Charles Stone series will appeal to adult readers who enjoy travel, adventure and mystery.

OP: What is special about your book? What differentiates it from other books in the same category?

CLF: This book is different because it employees a duel genre of both travel and mystery. The reader will not only be fully informed but taken for a thrill ride as well.

OP: Have you published any other books? Do you plan to publish more?

CLF: Yes.

Many Lands Many Hearts-More than a Memoir

Sentimental Me- A travel mystery involving the murder of a Border Patrol Agent

Canyons of the Soul- A travel mystery involving confrontation with a sadistic Polygamist Mormon Prophet

Tainted Dish- A sequel to Broken Spirit involving military industrial espionage ( pre-publication stage)

OP: Thanks for your time, Charles! We look forward to learning more about you as you visit other bloggers!


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