Posts Tagged ‘secret service’

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…….money artist J.S.G. Boggs






J.S.G. Boggs was born in the 1955 in Woodbury, New Jersey He is seen by some governments as a crook, though he works with only one side of the paper when he makes his trademark Boggs bills.

In the next few posts we will look other money painters. The Secret Service was established in 1865 to help combat fraud. One of the first artists they went after was John Haberle. His claim to fame happened when a respected art critic said his art used real stamps and real money glued to a board. When it was proven that the images were really paintings, a true legend was made. Haberle was able to fool the human eye. Below is an example of John Haberle’s style.


In this clip we see the artist in action.

His birth name is Steve Litzner.

A sample of how he uses art as money. He makes both bills and notes. In most transactions notes are used with the premise that the receiver of the note realizes they are accepting art as currency. In most cases the person getting the note doesn’t realize the true value. I would imagine they are shocked to find out the true value of his work. A $10 Boggs bill can fetch more than $1000 on the private market.

A book was made of Boggs and his artwork titled Boggs, A Comedy of Values

He has done several currency works with his own unique style. One was a mural titled All the Worlds a Stage that concentrated on Shakespearean themes. Another was a design featuring Harriet Tubman on the $100 bill rather than Ben Franklin. The F.U.N. note you see in the gallery stands for the Florida United Numismatists.

He has been brought to court by foreign governments for his artwork. First was in 1986 in London. He faced 40 years on this charge. Another was in Australia three years later. He was acquitted on both accounts as he was able to prove the receivers of the notes knew they were not real. He work has been confiscated by the U.S. Government but he has never faced any charges here.

Though his charges were thrown out he was able to cause the Bank of England to change its ways. They now copyright all of their artwork so technically it isn’t to be reproduced at all.

I enjoy artists like this who break the mold. And how about John Haberle! His story about fooling the eye of an art critic reminds me of the two painters who were painting trompe with the subject matter being grapes. One artist’s painted grapes that fooled the other artist into believing it was real. When the second artist reveals his painting and birds came immediately. The other artist gave up in defeat saying that too fool a human is one thing, but to fool the birds is another! What an amazing technical skills are used to develop this style of art!