Palm Desert, CA
This story was featured in the March 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art March 2013 print issue, or get the Southwest Art March 2013 digital download now…Or better yet, just subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
At first glance, the works of Jeannine Young and Mark Bowles may appear to have nothing in common—Young creates figurative sculptures in bronze; Bowles creates abstract landscapes in acrylic. But despite differences in subject matter and medium, these two artists are similar in several ways: Both are inspired by the outdoors; both portray simplified versions of their subjects; both heavily employ design elements such as line, form, angles, and planes in their work. And this month, both artists present new works at Coda Gallery’s Palm Desert location. The show opens with a reception on Saturday, March 16, from 5 to 7 p.m. and runs through March 27.
Known for her elegant female figures, Young usually sculpts women wearing long, flowing skirts or dresses. Recently, however, she has begun to create western-themed pieces as well. “Lately I’ve been having a lot of fun with cowboys,” says Young, who welds each original piece with steel rods and sheet metal, then adds texture with clay or additional welding before having a mold made and an edition cast in bronze. The male figure initially posed a challenge to the artist. “It took me a while to figure out how to put pants on male figures,” she says, explaining that she spent a lot of time tweaking angles and planes to capture the shape of the male pelvis. It was while creating two new pieces, KICKIN’ BACK and QUITTIN’ TIME, that she finally felt “the breakthrough.”
Of the eight new works Young has in the show, four are western-themed. “With the western pieces, I’ve really been coming back to my pioneer roots, appreciating how much I love being in the West and being outdoors,” Young says, adding, “I’m not a cowgirl, but I really connect to their spirit, strength, resilience, and tenacity.”
Bowles is also deeply inspired by the outdoors. All of his paintings are based on the landscapes of California and the Southwest, though none portray a specific place. “My approach is to minimize the landscape and separate the atmosphere,” Bowles says. “The real concept of what the landscape is influences my work—the principles of horizon, shadow, light, and sky are still there, even though they’re abstracted.”
Over the years, Bowles developed his style by sticking to this highly minimal and abstract approach. But lately the artist has begun to include more distinct forms—especially mountain ranges—in his paintings. “In the last year or two, there’s suddenly been more curvature of line in my work,” he says. “I resisted it at first because it’s more representational, but it’s something I’ve been drawn to lately and I decided to go with it … and I like [the results].”
Despite these changes, Bowles’ unique interpretation of the landscape, combined with his use of bright, warm colors draped across large-scale canvases, continues to make his work easily recognizable. “As an artist, finding your voice is important, but you have to be careful not to let that define you,” he says. —Lindsay Mitchell
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