Again the challenge of interpretation beckons in the confines of a dimly lit, precariously placed workshop in the Cocoa Beach home of Brian Dowdall. Gallons of acrylic paint amid stacks of cardboard, tarpaper and wood and enough artwork to fill galleries invoking images of renaissance era artist workshops. Actually, this is not far from the truth except Brian is part of a movement that will someday be looked back upon in American art history as an important time for our folk art This form of art is known as Outsider art. Outsider artists are self taught, and for the most part paint in a free form mode often painting life around them, forever recording their surroundings in a visual interpretation as the pre civilized era cultures did in the form of petroglyphs and stone carvings which are found all over the world. This energy is a vital form of communication throughout history, and it sometimes, if not even by choice certain people are driven to paint in this fashion. On one end of Brianís workshop leans a giant wall of paint which you soon realize was originally an easel. The swirling layers on layers of paint on the easel would seem to make an excellent piece in itself. The easel where Brian has stood and poured out his visions for almost thirty years. He began painting in 1966. He was 18. Going through several fazes including pieces that were more sculpture than painting, some the size of an entire doorway, he admits they were a bit overbearing and consequently people did not quite know what to do with this massive half painting, half sculpture, eight feet tall with bright reds and blues with three dimensional vegetation. Several years later, in the mid 1980ís, he put his visions of animal spirit paintings to canvas, or cardboard rather, believing that the innocent nature of animals is free of pretense, as is not always the case with people. Therefore painting the animals pure spirit through imagery and sometimes basic abstract suggestion could transmit this energy into the viewer and leave a smile on your face. Recognizing this inherent honesty in nature led to his success with animal spirit paintings and goddess compositions. From then on his subject matter became clearly defined and his work grew, soon becoming an animal of its own, leaving Brian to sometimes wonder where these images come from. It seems that the colors used in conjunction with the animal Spirit images, as abstract as they often are, somehow react in a physiological way with sense of perception, to the point that our moods can actually change just by looking at a painting every day. This effect has been witnessed by an entire following of art lovers who follow the Outsider scene, and adds a new dimension to art appreciation Brian Dowdall is listed in the resource guide book 20th Century American Folk and Outsider Art by Betty Carol Sellen and the Contemporary American Folk Art; A Collectors Guide by Chuck and Jan Rosenack. For some time now he has done different collaborations with Mose Tulliver and Howard Finster, two icons of American folk art. Brianís list of collectors is two long to mention, however, some of his collectors might be recognized by Brevard Live readers: Van Morrison, Mose Allison, Jonny Cash and June Carter as well as many collections, from galleries to private art collectors all over the world. He is also represented at some of the premier art shows across the country, which has gained him national recognition over the years. Brian speaks of his animal spirit paintings being pure colors surrounding and filling the forms of his composition. He gained his keen perspective of natural forms while hiking in the mountains of Anaconda Montana where he grew up. He always felt a strong attachment to the wildlife, and portrays the animal kingdom in harmony with itself, as it should be. His favorite subjects, however, are not found in Montana but always evoke wondrous imagery; the Elephant, Giraffe, Lion and, of course, dogs and cats. People often send photographs of their pets and request portraits which he warns may not be any resemblance to the pet itself, but will be the interpretation of its most primal spirit. So again the challenge of interpretation beckons and Brian Dowdall sets about to create another colorful masterpiece, consuming himself in the process of becoming a medium for the age old energy that drives us to interpret the world around us.

Kris Cadle

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