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Charles Jupiter Hamilton


Charles Jupiter Hamilton (February 4, 1948-September 21, 2021) was an American artist born in Princeton, New Jersey. Although his family moved to a working farm in North Carolina, Hamilton never warmed to the lifestyle, preferring instead to spend his time developing his drawings and paintings. After a tour in the United States Navy as a Gunner’s Mate Petty Officer, he continued his exploration of art at the University of North Carolina. He eventually moved to West Virginia in 1977, making Charleston his permanent home and launching his influential career as an artist.

Hamilton was known for his bold uses of line and color in a style influenced by contemporary art, his own figurative imagery, and a sharp, sarcastic sense of humor. All of these elements were blended together in what Hamilton referred to as a “new world primitivism,” which some have described as the psychedelic sixties combined with indigenous art. His media includes canvas paintings, self-pulled wood block prints, wall reliefs, and wooden sculptures. Many of his murals can be seen throughout Charleston. His work has been exhibited in New York City, Miami, Boston, Atlanta, and Washington D.C., as well as in many regional exhibitions throughout West Virginia. In 2013, he produced a painting for the West Virginia State Museum, celebrating West Virginia’s sesquicentennial.

A colorful and memorable character, Hamilton led workshops for all ages, emphasizing creativity and encouraging artistic expression. His unique style has influenced many young artists. He married Rhoda Stone in 2012. In 2021, a street on Charleston’s West Side was named for him. He died as a result of exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

Written by Christopher Chapman