From Architect to Artist

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.

Related Events


Tuesday, February 5, 6:30–8pm
Registration required via
Join us for light bites and drinks to celebrate the opening of From Architect to Artist: Public Art by Charles Bergen, AIA. Meet Mr. Bergen who shares informal remarks about his lifelong passion for art, the journey from architect to artist, and the public art practice he owns and operates today.

Talk and Walk: Charles Bergen, AIA and Chinatown Barnes Dance

Saturday, February 16, 1–3pm
Free for Assoc. AIA, AIA, & DAC Members | $25 for Non-Members
Registration required via
Join Charles Bergen, AIA for a short gallery talk highlighting selected projects on view in the exhibition. Following his talk, participants walk with Mr. Bergen to the Chinatown Barnes Dance where he discusses the project brief, design strategies, and installation process for this unique project. As art in public space, he also shares tales of vandalism and the restoration practices and procedures required for repairs.

Integrating Public Art into Your Next Project

Wednesday, March 27, 6:30–8pm
$10 for Students & Assoc. AIA Members | $15 for AIA & DAC Members | $25 for Non-Members Registration required via
Public art is created for many reasons, among them to tell a story and engage the community. As art in the public domain, public art is—most importantly—highly visible and freely accessible to everyone. So, how does public art come to life and what are the processes involved in the planning, development, and production of such artworks?

Join Charles Bergen, AIA as he discusses how to develop art commissions and seek public grants and match-funding. He also discusses how to select and work with artists, municipal agencies and/or private entities, consultants, and fabricators to integrate art into public sites throughout the District of Columbia and beyond.

Historic Call Boxes In Downtown D.C. Will Be Transformed Into Art Celebrating Women

Nine long-defunct call boxes in downtown D.C. are about to get a second life as public art.

Local artist Charles Bergen will refurbish each of them in honor of nine different women who made history in the area. The $176,000 project is funded by the DowntownDC Business Improvement District and the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities.

Read More Here.

Rhode Island Ave Callbox Dedication

Dedication Ceremony for the Rhode Island Fire and Police Callbox Public Art Project September 24th from 6:30 pm to 8 pm at Art Enables 2204 Rhode Island Avenue NE. 

This Public Art Project Funded by The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Public Art Building Communities Grant features five historic cast iron Fire Call Boxes and one Police Callboxes. Mothballed in the early 1970s these neglected but robust historic elements have been restored and now tell the history of the community when the Callboxes were in use along Rhode Island Ave NE. 

The six historical themes are the Metropolitan Branch Line, The Maryland and Washington Railway, The Columbian Harmony Cemetery, the History of the Callboxes, and the musician, composer and performer Bo Diddley.   

Friends of Rhode Island Ave community partner, Mara Cherkasky Historian, Brandon Bailey, Aaron Rogers, Dana Hollister and Charles Bergen Artists. Chris Harding, Stephanie Reyes and Charles Bergen Artists 

All are welcome. Food and drink will be provided. 


Scholarship Recipient

I am thrilled to announce my acceptance to the Practicing Artist Scholarship with the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in Denver, CO from June 14-17, 2018. 

"Americans for the Arts is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. With more than 50 years of service, it is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts.


New Projects

2018 is looking very busy. I have been fortunate to recently be selected for some exciting new projects and see some others come to completion. Here is a highlight of some new projects that will be taking shape in 2018 and I am looking forward to sharing more with you as they develop. 

2017 Finalist Selections

Charles Bergen Studios was selected as a finalist for two projects for 2017: 

1. VisionDC Art Tank: an art challenge program that will bring Washington, DC developers and artists together to design and implement art projects throughout the nations capital.

2. Biltmore Hills Tennis Center: site-specific public artwork for integration as a part of renovations in the city of Raleigh, NC.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Charles Bergen Studios Awarded Several Local Public Art Commissions

December 2016

Charles Bergen Studios is thrilled to announce the award of several local commissions for public art projects in in 2016 and 2017.


DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities Fellowship

On October 3, 2016, the DC Commission for Arts and Humanities awarded Charles Bergen a fellowship in support of the studio.  In addition, the Commission’s Art Bank Collection purchased works designed and created by Charles Bergen Studios for the Anacostia River Terrace Community.  The work will be added to the Washingtonia Collection and offered for display to local non-profit organizations and businesses. 


Dance Place Arts Park

In 2016, Dance Place, a vibrant local Washington D.C. non-profit arts organization, commissioned several pieces to be installed in a new local Arts Park.  Three pieces – a colorful painted carbon steel ‘Art on 8th’ sign, a laser-cut metal bike rack and repair station and a fiberglass turtle sprinkler were installed this summer and fall.  –The final piece, an artistic downspout for the building will be installed in the spring.  Together, these installations will help to strengthen a sense of community and place around the Dance Place facility. 


Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail

As part of its ongoing effort to revitalize the Rhode Island NE corridor, the City of Hyattsville awarded Charles Bergen Studios a commission to complete a sculptural signage piece at the head of the Rhode Island Trolley Trail.


Bowie: Past, Present and Future

Awarded by the Bowie City Council, this piece will be located next to City Hall in Bowie, Maryland.  The piece, which will feature three large metalwork panels on concrete will convey the towns’ strong sense of history and highlight this community of engaged citizens that share interwoven stories and lives.




For more information on Charles Bergen Studios please visit