Carolina Impact, Season 7: Episode 15 (February 18, 2020) – Artist Chas Fagan

Carolina Impact, Season 7: Episode 15 (February 18, 2020) – Artist Chas Fagan


(air whooshing)
(bright violin music) – [Suzette] The work of an
artist often speaks for them, and for Chas Fagan,
his body of work can say a lot. In Charlotte,
(air whooshing) Fagan’s works are prominent, such as Captain Jack, the man who delivered the Mecklenburg Declaration
of Independence, riding alone and risking it all. – [Chas] Took it all the
way up to Philadelphia and delivered it in the
Continental Congress. – [Suzette] Captain Jack
was a massive project. – Being able to lift the pounds and pounds
and pounds of clay up on the piece and spreading
it out and shaping it was an absolute physical joy, which I didn’t know I
loved until I did it. – [Suzette] Fagan’s
love of history is infused into every
aspect of his work. Another example
locally are the statues of King Hagler
and Thomas Spratt. Hagler was the head of our
region’s Catawba Indians, and Spratt, a leader among the
new settlers of the region. Their friendship allowed
for a peaceful coexistence for years. Taking the clay form to bronze is a visually
captivating process. The heat, the liquid metal, the sheer size and scale. Fagan’s third historical
statue in Charlotte is the one of Philip Van Every, the head of the Lance
Corporation and philanthropist. – I was excited that
the local history wants to honor someone in
relatively recent history, a good caretaker of the city. – [Suzette] Chas
Fagan began his career as an illustrator and
cartoonist for newspapers. The Yale University graduate
never studied art formally, but his talents evolved
and opportunities came. His first big break was
a project for C-SPAN, a bust of Alexis de Tocqueville for the series on
democracy in America. Fagan had never professionally
sculpted before, but he was unfazed. – I sculpted this head and then baked it in our oven and sacrificed a
lasagna dish. (laughing) And the result was this
classic-looking, smaller bust of Tocqueville. – [Suzette] Fagan’s talents
are now sought after across the country. He sculpted astronaut Neil
Armstrong for Purdue University. A college-aged Armstrong sits in front of the
hall named in his honor. – I got to meet him, and I got to spend
time with him. – [Suzette] Fagan was also
chosen to do several statues of President Ronald Reagan. At the Presidential Library, the president and first
lady Nancy Reagan. Another is at the
Reagan National Airport, and another in Germany where Reagan gave the famous speech.
(clicking) (cheering and clapping) “Mr. Gorbachev, tear
down this wall!” (crowd cheering) – [Suzette] In this statue, President Reagan is
holding his speech cards with those words, and inside the bronze cast is a slice of the Berlin Wall. It’s the kind of detail
Fagan is known for. Fagan’s work is also at
the National Cathedral near the high altar, and his work is also
at the National Shrine. There’s a statue of
Saint John Paul II welcoming visitors outside and another showing
the energetic man greeting visitors inside. – It’s all kind of quiet. His scale is a little
larger than life, so you’re looking
slightly up into his eyes. His arms are out, and inevitably, when
I’m there anonymously, I see people hugging him. That’s exactly what I wanted. – [Suzette] Fagan’s talents
also include paintings. He’s painted the Bush
presidents, father and son. He was commissioned
for two paintings of first lady Barbara Bush, including one for
the White House. Another fascinating story is the painting
of Mother Teresa. In fact, Fagan’s painting of her was the one that hung high in Saint Peter’s Square in
Rome at her canonization. It would be easy
to be blown away by Chas Fagan’s portfolio, but Fagan doesn’t
see it that way, and his humble nature
seems to cringe at any notion of a
celebrity artist, especially to his family. – I don’t think they
will ever see that, Dad as being anything but Dad. Yeah, they keep you
extremely humble, which is fun, and I wouldn’t
want anything else. – [Suzette] Fagan
is a storyteller, and his stories are told in
paintings and sculptures. The detail in each will
engage the visitor. The more you know
about these subjects, the more you will appreciate the level of detail in each one. And Chas Fagan says he just
wants to continue his work. – Absolutely. History is filled with just wonderful stories, and I love the idea of
being able to capture them and to present them to
people in the future. – [Suzette] Fagan says
everyone has a story that’s worth telling. He hopes to tell
as many as he can in places all over the world, all the while calling
Charlotte home. For Carolina Impact, I’m
Suzette Rhee reporting.

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