born 1953 Alameda, California
Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree with Honors in Painting, California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC), Oakland, CA
CCAC Graduate Program Candidate, Full Merit Scholarship
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ
Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ
Booth Western Art Museum, Cartersville, GA
Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
The first encounter with paintings by Mark Bowles can be a bit like walking into a room that is a little too dark. It takes a while for your eyes to adjust before you can really take in what you are seeing. While they can be enjoyed at a glance, these are not paintings intended for casual viewing. Taking the time to look closely brings its rewards.
When I see Mark's images, I am struck initially by his bold use of color. It is understood that he is a skilled colorist. Indicating multiple application techniques, the works feature layers of pigments and varying textures. The colors play off each other, often contrasting and complimenting one another within a single painting. As I take in the different color relations, this is when the compositional structure begins to assert itself. Colors, joyful as they are, are not haphazard, but are evidently guided by an underlying construction.
Recent paintings suggest vaguely familiar land masses and agrarian fields of central California, but they are clearly imaginative responses not intended to be read as literal. They balance the familiar with the highly personal. These are not landscapes in a classical sense that ask us to pinpoint a precise location. Instead, we are seeing landscapes of the mind. We are seeing Mark's responses to his lived experience and his shifting reactions brought on by various sites over time. Looking closely at the combination of colors and forms, we are rewarded not by trying to find the specificity of place, but by connecting with the artist's emotions and personal feelings about nature.
Jerry N. Smith, PhD
Curator of The Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ
Through his art, Mark Bowles proves it is possible to be both bold and subtle at the same time. At first glance, the bold colors and minimal obvious detail catch your attention, but closer inspection reveals subtle variations and much additional information. Built up on an underlying abstract framework, contrasting colors resonate to convey the essence of the scene he is depicting.
Bay View, recently acquired by the Booth Western Art Museum for its permanent collection, is an excellent example of his recent work. Providing just enough information to support the title, the setting reminds me of trips to the ocean when you anxiously scan the road ahead yearning to see the sea. This could be nearly anywhere on any coast, yet it at the same time seems vaguely familiar. Herein lies the key to his work, the ability to engage the viewer and elicit an emotional response.
Execturive Director, Booth Western Art Museum
Bowles’ landscapes are individual statements that have emerged with individuality from a rich tradition of California landscape painting. Unlike his friend, Gregory Kondos, Mark Bowles is not a plein-air painter although he finds time in the field crucial to his artistic sensibility. Mark prefers the solitude of the studio to address painting infrastructure and color interplay which eventually find placement in a finished work. Whereas many practicing Northern California landscape painters find richness with riparian settings or city-scapes, Bowles primarily features the broad plains of the Central Valley as his favored subject matter. Often, distinctive landmarks are visible in a setting that is on the verge of abstraction.
Scott Shields, Ph. D.
Chief Curator, Crocker Art Museum
I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and have painted all my life. My passion for interpreting what I saw brought me to my studies at the California College of Arts & Crafts. There I completed my studies with honors. In addition, I studied at the Institudio Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It is this dedication and passion for my art that has allowed my work to grow and move forward and stay fresh. My work is presently collected and shown nationally.
Whether I am working with a still life, the human figure, or landscape, I am always fascinated by texture, form and color which I use in expressing how I feel about what I am seeing. I do not limit myself in what I paint or how I might interpret what I see. This freedom allows my work to move from representational to minimalist to abstraction. My work is ever changing, ever challenging and always a passionate delight. It is always my intention to address the canvas directly, honestly, and boldly. My heart is always pushing my work to find new language in expressing what I see and how I feel about it. The result therefore is not just an intellectual exercise for me, it is being involved in the “Now”……….always open for change and challenge ……..always evolving.
Exploring color, composition, the quality and attitude of a line, as well as various materials will always fascinate and be tools for me. It is my goal to draw the viewer into my space and let them become involved in their own personal journey and discovery of the work. The ultimate reward for me is to communicate something new to the viewer even if for just a moment in time.
Painting is my commitment, my passion and my fulfillment.
I am honored by those who find inspiration from my work.