From his early days as a young boy playing along the Native American Catawba Trail in Ligonier Township to his studies abroad in Europe, Chas Fagan’s childhood was surrounded by history.
The renowned artist, sculptor and portraitist said he goes back those experiences for each project he undertakes.
“Ligonier Valley’s woodlands and pastural scenes are the inspiration for landscape paintings,” Fagan said. “I am comfortable when I paint in an atmosphere that I know. It gives me a chance to slip back for a moment into the imaginary world of childhood.”
Fagan was the guest speaker Friday at the final installment of a three-part lecture series “George Washington’s Friendly Fire Incident of Nov. 12, 1758,” at Fort Ligonier.
“We always have a guest speaker close to the anniversary of George Washington’s Friendly Fire Incident,” said Annie Urban executive director of Fort Ligonier. “Chas has been a longtime friend of Fort Ligonier. He practically grew up at the fort.”
Urban said Fagan revives history. He creates objects and paintings to help us preserve our history and our legacy.
“He has deep ties both personally and professionally here. He has a well-recognized name and is an excellent speaker,” Urban said. “Chas is one of the artists in American history who is sensitive to history. We are honored to have him speak… as an historian, an artist and as a native of Ligonier.”
Fagan was introduced by childhood friend Patrick Wallace. “Art transcends time, inspires, lifts us up and connects with people and circumstances like no other human experience,” Wallace said. “Few artists capture the relationship of art and history like Chas Fagan. As a self-taught artist, he brings to life some of these experiences of his life.”
Wallace recalled growing up with Fagan, spending time working together at Fort Ligonier and starting the soccer program at Ligonier Valley High School.
“We both have spent every second of our life to be a winner ever since, in our communities,” Wallace said.
Fagan said he first started his path as an artist with pencil drawings at a young age.
“I was always drawing people. Then history began to get intertwined in my drawings. It gave me the feeling of being transported back to that time.”
For Fagan, every project is a journey to get to the end piece.
“It begins with the smallest things — the interesting people you meet along the path, the feeling you get when you see the scene for the first time and the random discoveries along the way,” Fagan said. “Then out of the blue a connection happens — a wonderful detail to add to the statue.”
Fagan captivated the guests with details about some of the projects he was commissioned to design and create.
Fagan created an 8-foot bronze sculpture of President George H. Bush in Houston and a sculpture of a young Neil Armstrong for Purdue University. A statue of President Ronald Regan, completed by Fagan in 2009, stands in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
The lecture was sponsored by Somerset Trust Co. Fagan resides in Charlotte, N.C., with his wife, Katie, and three children.
Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or [email protected].