Archive for March 11, 2013

Artist of the moment …..Robert Dowd

Robert Dowd was another fantastic artist that painted works of art using currency as a subject. Dowd was born in Detroit, Michigan in the year 1936. He sometimes used O’Dowd for a last name.
He joined the marines and after getting discharged Dowd attended the Society of Arts and Crafts/ Center for creative studies which was located in Detroit. Whilst at the center het studied with an artist deeply associated with Detroit, Sarkis Sarkisian. Sarkisian emigrated with his family at the age thirteen from Turkey. He was always gracious about the opportunities Detroit gave him. Below is an image showing Sarkisian’s style.
Dowd is associated with the Pop art movement and first jumped onto the national scene for some paintings of every day objects such as postage stamps. Dowd decided to head west to California to further his career. Dowd moved to Los Angeles and was invited to exhibit at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1962. The show featured many well known artists such as Warhol, Jim Dine, and Lichtenstein.
In the 60’s any anti goverment or anti-establishment was frowned upon and painting currency,even the ones that were just done to make a political or humorous statement, and Dowd caught the attention of the F.B.I. The agents went to his studio, confisscated his art, and then told collectors they would be next! If he continued to paint money he would be arrested.
Dowd started to concentrate on painting ordinary postage stamps. Like the money he painted the stamps
were extremely larger than in real life. One fact to remember is that he had just finished a stamp painting of President John Kennedy the day the president wad killed.
Los Angeles would have some bad events that led to Dowd relocating to SoHo and New York. Dowd painted murals for large companies and window scenes for offices that didn’t have any. New York gave Dowd many chances to nuture his professional career.

When he first moved to Los Angeles he met a lady artist that was well known in art circles for her bold and geometric paintings, her name was Mara Devereux. The two would go on to marry but had no children. She hasn’t remarried since Dowd passed away in 1996. Below is an example of Devereux’s style of painting. She also became known for some sculpture like work that was based on a five sided box. Here is a link to a gallery featuring the art of Mara Devereux:



Price range info: Sorry, none available.

Like many other artists he had no health insurance. He developed kidney problems and didn’t seek out financial help as he was too proud for that. His complications grew worse and he passed away in 1996.

More money, currency, and postage stamp painters to come!


Artist of the moment…..Barton Benes…

The artist was born in 1942 in the city of Hackensack, New Jersey.  He was known for making shadow box like works of art. These works of art are very personable and sometimes include famous people and celebrity events. Some examples would be a piece done using a piece of cake from the first wedding of Prince Charles. Another example would be using a piece of clothing from an outfit warn by Elizabeth Taylor. He also made many sculptures using shredded american currency he got directly from the Treasury Department. A wonderful example is of the crown of thorns made out of U.S. currency. Very interesting as to how these works can be interpreted.

For his collegiate education the artist attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. He also studied at the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris, France.

In this clip see a piece of artwork with the subject being a grizzly bear done by Benes. The piece is made up of hundreds of sea shells collected by the artist. In the gallery above the drawers are where he kept his many found items kept to be used in his artwork.

In this clip Benes talks about his donation to the North Dakota Museum of Art.

Benes developed AIDS and passed away from the disease in 2012 at the age of 69 years old.

His works are included in the Chicago Art Institute, the Museum of American Art, he National Gallery of Australia, and the North Dakota Museum of Art.

Benes was involved in two movies during his lifetime. One was titled Gay Sex in the 70s and this was documentary in which he gave an interview. Another was a documentary film made about Benes’ artwork in 1997 and  show titled AIDS, LETHAL WEAPON.

Price range info: He worked in many different styles and mediums and when works come to auction they can usually be found for a few thousand dollars.

When he passed away he left all of his belongings to the North Dakota Museum. He loved the place and spoke of it often very fondly. If there was one place in the world I could live it would be North Dakota. I guess this was before the fracking and the balkan shale finds!

If I was to compare the artist to a more modern painter it would be Joseph Cornell. Cornell used shadow boxes and would use his own experiences in his art. Since shadow box artists are hard to come by I have included a clip rather than just one picture to see Mr. Cornell’s work. I will do a full post on Joseph Cornell  later this week.