Space Ghost’s Visions: George Lowe

George Lowe bridges the worlds of folk/Outsider art and contemporary art as few other artists do.

Susan Mitchell Crawley, former Curator of Folk Art for the High Museum, Atlanta, writes: “He has collected art since he was very young, beginning with prints and drawings by prominent Modern and Contemporary artists and later developing an enthusiasm for vernacular art.” Lowe’s collection of the work of Georgia visionary folk artist Howard Finster is among the finest in the world, and he has lent many pieces from his personal collection to museum exhibitions.

Lunch on Staff Field orig email size (2)

Above: Lunch on Stagg Field.  This piece was included in “Lands Beyond,” an exhibition of visionary landscapes curated by author Tom Patterson, in Spring 2015 at the Bascom Center for the Visual Arts, Highlands, NC.

Crawley continues: “In the course of this collecting career he has seen and absorbed much. Despite his long involvement with [fine] art, Lowe shows more kinship with the self-taught artists…than with the mainstream artists he first collected, for his fabulous landscapes refer more to themselves and the territory inside his head than to the terrain of Western art. Lowe’s great discovery in his vernacular collection may have been how to explore his own imaginings freely and express them forcefully.”

George Lowe The FEMA Trailer of Forbidden Love (2)

Left: The FEMA Trailer of Forbidden Love (watercolor and ink on paper, 8″ x 5″)

Unlike the work of most other folk art enthusiasts-turned- artists, Lowe’s work is never imitative or derivative of the self-taught masters he admires. Instead, it is itself inimitable—futuristic, fantastical, funny, a touch manic and more than a bit obsessive, just like the artist himself. Fans of the cult 1990s absurdist animated/live-action late-night show Space Ghost: Coast to Coast might feel an uncanny kinship; the title character was played by Lowe, who also happens to be an accomplished humorist and voice actor. The Space Ghost: Coast to Coast DVDs are treasured by his fans (or, as he calls them, his “TV friends”), as are his recordings Space Ghost’s Musical Barbeque: Featuring 25 Hickory-Smoked Harmonies and Space Ghost’s Surf and Turf: With 22 Tiki-Torched Tunes.

Lowe’s work is included in the permanent collections of the High Museum of Art (Atlanta) and the St. Petersburg (FL) Museum, as well as the corporate collection of CNN/Turner Broadcasting.

The Road to the Zobanian Consulate at St Petersburg MFA (2)

The artist with The Road to the Zobanian Consulate, a piece in the permanent collection of the St. Petersburg (FL) Museum of Fine Art.

PRESS

Escape Into Life: Artist Watch

Rebecca Mahoney, “George Lowe.” The Ledger (Lakeland, FL), April 23, 2004.

James Casey, “Interview with the Ghost.” Arizona Daily Wildcat, November 20, 1997.

Catherine Fox, “Kaleidoscopic View of Imagination,” Atlanta-Journal Constitution, April 17, 2009

 

 

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Chivaree Southern Art & Design

I opened Chivaree gallery in Cashiers, NC, in May of 2012.  My first ad appeared in the June 2012 issue of the Highlands-Cashiers Laurel and the 2012 Season Program for the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival.  Shown is the work of Winton and Rosa Eugene (pottery), Ab the Flagman (wooden eagle sculpture), Michael Hatch (glass “firewater jugs”), Mark Sillay (woodturning) and Kristi Hyde (jewelry). Photography and layout by Gil Stose.

Chivaree is also on Facebook.

 

Winton and Rosa Eugene

I bought a pitcher by the Eugenes a few years ago from Ted Oliver’s gallery in Hendersonville, NC.  I had never seen anything quite like it before, although it had a classic southern dark-brown alkaline glaze and a lovely, familiar pitcher form.  The handle ended in a curved flourish at the bottom.  It featured masterful incised decoration: two turtles, one on either side, both utterly charming.  And the mad genius who made this thing then went and covered the whole surface with a geometric turtle-shell motif.  I picked it up and it was light.  In short, it had everything going for it.  This turtle had me mesmerized, especially when I looked at its head.

Mesmerizing turtle head
turtle pitcher (verso)
turtle pitcher (recto)

As Ted wrapped the pitcher for me, he told me it was made by a husband-and-wife team from Cowpens, SC, who happened to be the only African-American potters he knew of who were still working in the Piedmont folk pottery tradition.

Well, the Eugenes are also going WAY beyond any Piedmont folk pottery tradition that I know of.  They are doing things with clay that are just beyond anything, ever.   I visited them in Cowpens last week to pick up work for my gallery.  My photos don’t even do their work justice, but please bear with me and try to use your imagination.

Winton throws pieces on the wheel and does all the surface decoration–detailed paintings with glazes and incised work–while Rosa, a former surgical nurse, comes up with their glaze formulas.  Rosa also makes large-scale pots by hand, using coil-forming technique.  These pots all have an organic shape to them, many suggesting a female form.  This is a coil-formed pot she made to suggest an egg:

a huge egg, coil-formed by Rosa handpainted by Winton

Here are some of Winton’s wheel-thrown vessels:

Winton does the masks too
a close-up of the second one from the left. W/ price tag.
another one of my favorite motifs- the tobacco leaf- and a matte oxidized glaze, which gives it a gorgeous patina

Winton holding a little face cup. He said this was a “drinking buddy” for people who don’t want to drink alone. Ha! He painted the mural on the wall in the background too

And here are more of Rosa’s coil-formed pots, with Winton’s surface decoration:

Winton also does paintings and drawings, and sometimes his drawings are the basis of the surface decoration on the pottery.

a detail of a drawing by Winton Eugene
the pot based on the drawing

And then Rosa sews, so she has created fiber elements for some of the works.  My absolute favorite piece in the whole place was this HUGE coil-formed vessel she made and Winton decorated, with a 4-faced doll head on top she sewed and embroidered.  The doll head had 4 different hairstyles and every face had facial features made of clay, incised and glazed…it didn’t just make my heart race like a perfect piece of pottery does, it made me go totally apoplectic.  Susan Crawley!  Please get the High Museum to buy this piece!

THE masterpiece among masterpieces

And I need to show you all 4 faces:

Did I mention that she added earrings to some of the handmade clay ears they made for the 4 faces she embroidered on the doll head she made for the pot?

Those eyes!

I have a bunch more photos, but they are uploading slowly and I need to go to bed…I think these should give you an idea of the greatness of this couple.