"Using Middle America as her muse, Kowch draws the history of a particular place -- invariably rural -- to the surface as it collides with a new reality in layers of metaphor and moodiness. The faces of her women may remind you of characters in a Tim Burton film."
--Steve Parks, Newsday

Sunday, October 28, 2007

We Love You, Kiwi

This week has been, by far, one of the hardest weeks for me. Our little Kiwi - a.k.a "Chi-Chi," to those of us who knew him - passed away this Tuesday after battling a tumor for the past few months. He was the sweetest, smartest, most affectionate little thing I'll ever know, and will forever be one of the most special things that has ever happened to me.

Kiwi came to us a little over five years ago, in August of '02. That month, my grandmother passed away unexpectedly a week short of her 64th birthday. She always loved Punky, my cockatiel, who was the only pet at the time. On her birthday, I was outside when I looked up at the roof and saw Kiwi sitting with his little face peering down at me. I lifted my hand up to him, said "Up, boy" and he just hopped on without a care! Luckily I had a small, unused cage lying around, and got him comfortable enough to go in. He had been my little sunshine ever since. We never knew how old Kiwi really was, but by the way he knew how to do things, talk, and the way he'd always watch over my other two birds like a little daddy, always brought me to the conclusion that he was already a mature, wise little guy when I found him.

Kiwi, my little man, you were a tough fighter to the very end. Playing, chatting, and cussing (he knew every word in the book!) everyday. You were our little comedian and everyone's friend. You were my best friend. How you would yell (and swear) at me if I was ever down in the dumps, lifting me up and making me laugh. How you listened, nodded your little head, and answered me everytime we talked. I couldn't pamper you enough, because you deserved every bit of it. I know you loved your time with us, because during all the hours you spent having free reign of the house, you never looked for a way to leave (and you always posed smiling for the camera!). You have always been my little angel, and now you really are. There will never be another like you. You'll always be mine, little muffin. Grandma gave you to me, and now she'll keep you safe. Fly and be free with her, and come visit me again soon. We all miss you, and will love you forever!

Friday, October 12, 2007

"Blackbirds Are Gathering"
24" x 36" Acrylic on canvas

This latest piece is a further exploration of my interest in symbolism, and how to fuse various forms of subject matter to create a cohesive image that ultimately tells a story. My initial idea behind this one expands upon the issue of change - whether it's positive or negative. That is up to the viewer. Some can gain a feeling of freedom, or a feeling of fear, or even sadness. For me, it signals the changes that are taking place in our environment, which, as a result, ultimately brings about change in our lives. For some reason, I have always had a particular love for rural American countrysides since I was a kid. Seeing so many farms going up for sale only to be purchased and turned into parking lots is devastating to me. I used the autumn landscape as a metaphor for nature, and how, as large and powerful as it is, it's beginning to experience a decline. The hill stands tall and wide, but it's no longer green and abundant. I used autumn as a way to form a connection with that concept, since it is that time of year when growth in nature starts coming to an end.

I suppose the human figure can represent whatever the viewer wants it to be. It could stand for those of us who try to hold on to what we have despite what reality we face, or it could represent a certain degree of obliviousness to reality. It could even represent those who remain hopeful despite everyone else giving up and moving on. Whatever you want it to be. One of my major goals is to leave my images open-ended, in order to allow others to form their own interpretations and come to their own conclusions. The title is a literal English translation of an American Indian word for October, that I came across (possibly from the Crow language?? Wish I knew for sure, but I don't. . . Baaxiile liwátxaauk was the phrase). At any rate, I don't think that any other name could be more suitable.
Final value study.

The final sketch for the painting.

Preliminary ideas

Work Currently Showing in Chicago. . .

"The Five Senses: Art and the Written Word" Exhibition

Here are some pics from the opening of the show, "The Five Senses: Art and the Written Word," an international juried exhibition sponsored by the Northbrook Public Library, which is located in the Chicago-metro area. My piece, "The Guests" was selected for the exhibition, giving me the opportunity to visit Chicago. The show opened on Friday, September 29, and paved the way for what I consider one of my most memorable trips. After getting a nice hefty speeding ticket, to getting stuck in Chicago's rush hour on an empty gas tank, to pulling off and nearly getting lost in a rough area of the city, we made it to Northbrook with only 20 minutes to spare before the opening. I thought we'd never make it in time (and we almost didn't!), but thanks to some good humor and hilarious mishaps along the way, we did. The show contained a wide variety of subject matter and approaches to the theme of the "five senses," and made for a great and interesting show. The show runs through October 29, so if you happen to be in the area stop by and check it out. You can visit the online version of the show at their official website HERE.
My brother, Roman, and I at the show.

Me next to my painting.

Jen, one of my good friends who joined Roman and me on this trip, and who frequently poses as the subject for many of my paintings.

The wonderful city of Chicago . . .

We spent the next day in Chicago, strolling up and down Michigan Avenue, and taking in some of the cool art installations in Millenium Park, like The Cloudgate, more informally known as "The Bean," as well as the famous Crown Fountain.
The Bean

I would have to say that The Cloudgate is one of the coolest things I have ever seen. It's made of stainless steel plates forged seamlessly together, which creates the mirror-like surface that it has. Awesome.
I think it's high time that I sit down and get caught up on posting here. Lots to show and share as new pieces are being created. I'm also backtracking a bit, and uploading some of the preliminary steps I take to complete a work. So, below, you'll find some process work that was done for my past pieces. Keep checking back throughout the week to see some new things!