Once in awhile I come across a new artist, someone I have never seen nor heard of before, and they stop me in my tracks. Their paintings call up inexplicable emotion and I can't shake it. Such is the case with Katherine Bowling, whose work I saw in a magazine this fall. Here I am, three months later, and I'm still talking about it.
When I worked in the gallery, my favorite conversations with clients were around why people respond as they do to certain paintings. Whether it's a realistic scene, which brings up memories of a place we've been, something we've seen and the emotions associated with those memories, or more abstract work, it always comes down to emotions. We each respond with our own unique way of viewing the world, our own perceptions. And so I cannot say this will strike you as it did me. This is just me. For whatever reason, it's not going away.
Her titles are singular and carry with them their own grace notes, as in this one, simply titled, View:
They have an ethereal quality, perhaps reminding us of a dream we once had that sometimes returns, unbidden, called up by circumstance.
She spends part of each year in a 19th century farmhouse atop the Catskill Mountains, surrounded by woods and fields, painting what she refers to as "ordinary stuff." Using oils, she paints in somewhat of a fresco style, layering vinyl spackle on wood, not unlike plaster, then beginning with a base coat of bright color, which creates in her paintings that sense of light emanating from within. She often turns the painting around, letting the drips form aspects of the work. It's as though Impressionism wed Abstraction and out of it something new was born, something wonderful, something extraordinary.
She notes the early work of photographer Edward Steichen as an influence. I have always loved his photographs. Perhaps that's one element that helps explain why I'm drawn to her work. Considered the most expensive photograph in the world, taken by Steichen on Long Island in 1904, the photograph below recently sold at auction for $2.9. That's million.
I had a devil of a time trying to pick which pieces I'd share with you. Actually, it was quite heavenly. Emotions, of course, ruled the day, and my decisions. Here are some more that sang to me. Sirens on the rocks, I'm telling you. And I gladly surrender.
I sent an email to Katherine Bowling, requesting permission to showcase her work in my blog, and received a generous response in return granting me permission to use whatever I like, along with a nice comment on my blog. I am thrilled! Such a lovely way to start my morning. Her most recent show, "Moments of Grace," is at the DC Moore Gallery in New York City.
I encourage you to click on each and view them somewhat larger. The titles are included there, as well. I can imagine how wonderful they must be in person.