September 16, 2006 in SatValley

Artist creates using discarded items

Jennifer Larue Correspondent
The Spokesman-Review photo

Denise Bowles and one of her pieces, Osculating Pulse, in the entryway of her Greenacres home. Below are heads Bowles often uses in her art.
(Full-size photo)

Art quote of the week

“This idea of a talking stick (Pinocchio) becoming a boy, it’s like a metaphor for art, and it’s the ultimate alchemical transformation.”

Jim Dine (1935- ), pop artist

Denise Bowles is a multi- or mixed-media artist. She takes discarded items and turns them into works of art, incorporating cheesecloth and drywall compound into her acrylic paintings, or nails, photographs, newsprint, plastic foam, and ceramic sculptures into her mixed-media creations.

Her work can be interpreted in many ways. One piece called “Over and Done With” contains what looks like planets and a ceramic figure in a fetal position, or a fetus in its “egg…” emerging or entering. The two heavy wood panels are draped with cheesecloth and deep colors of blue, aqua and touches of red.

One observer told her the work showed her feminine side while, in actuality, the work represented her feelings about being diagnosed with lupus. The “planets” were cells.

Bowles thinks out loud as she works on a creation: “…Styrofoam packaging…rusted nails…piece of bone…hmm…wood stain? Oh, that smells bad. I wonder how many birds had to die from the pollution of this Styrofoam…feathers still flying, beautiful birds, rusted nails, bird bone.”

When the piece is finished, it will hang on a wall, solidly built and cleanly contained within a frame of found objects.

Bowles, 41, grew up in Moscow, Idaho. As a child, she was always doing something creative. She went on to the University of Idaho to study child development but left to marry and have children.

She moved to Trentwood in 1991, and when her youngest child, Tabitha, started kindergarten, she went back to school, earning an Associate of Fine Art degree from Spokane Falls Community College. Since then, she has taken classes and workshops in printmaking, ceramics, enameling, copper raising, bronze casting, and figure drawing.

A year ago, Bowles and her husband, Kay Dean Bowles, moved into the Greenacres home that they designed. There, she works in a room with cement floors, an abundance of supplies, tables, an easel and a second room with a sink, kiln and ceramic tools.

She has exhibited in more than 20 area galleries and has been involved in many artist groups and events. Her next showing will be at the Spokane Valley Studio Arts Tour Oct. 7 and 8, when she will be opening her studio to the public with a group of other artists. Bowles believes that the Spokane Valley is full of talented artists but they need more unity and support.

Bowles will continue to build on her ideas and maybe even go back to school; she likes to learn and perhaps expand on her forms of expression.

Her recent works are heavily inspired by Frank Capra’s film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and the question: “What determines the worth of an individual?” One of the main characters in the film, Mary, seems to have it all figured out. “She doesn’t need fame or fortune…coconuts or New York City. All she needs is Bedford Falls and George Bailey, and after all, who cares?”

Bowles is always thinking, and it shows in her work.

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