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ArtSpotlight

Brian Owens
Sculptor and Painter

From Michigan to Florida, from engineer to sculptor, from objectivist to humanist, Brian R. Owens has made an improbable journey into the world of art and the continent of his soul. He was born in Detroit, MI in 1958 to Katherine J. Owens, an educator and Carl C. Owens, a freelance illustrator and Staff Artist for the Detroit Board of Education. With his father's assistance Owens held his first 2-man exhibit of fine art at the age of 16 at a fine art gallery in Detroit. It was decades before the desire to pursue a career in art surfaced but when it did, Owens quickly became known for his dramatic figurative sculpture, paintings and portraits. But before this, he continued his education.

 

Owens went on to receive a BSEE degree from Lawrence Technological University in 1979 and worked as an engineer for over ten years, mostly in the defense industry. He relocated to central Florida in 1981 and spent his free time in Orlando. He studied sculpture after-hours and learned the craft of casting bronze at Crealde School of Art. Later, he assisted professional sculptors in central Florida at their "studio foundries." These sculptors were able to overcome the expense of working in cast bronze by casting the work themselves using ingenious homemade gas-fired furnaces of their own design. Owens began his own body of work with an exploration of traditional figurative sculpture. Early influences include Elizabeth Catlett, Ed Hamilton, Tina Allen and Richard Bennet. Owens had long observed that it was possible for an artist to live off of his work. Interest grew into obsession until the closing of his plant brought him to a crossroad of sorts. Essentially, Owens' art career began about the age of 30.

 

During the 1990's Owens worked primarily in bronze and created his first family of limited edition sculpture entitled "Diaspora", a figurative collection centering around geographically disperse but ethnically connected subject matter. These editions rise from his appreciation of history and the belief that African Americans are enriched by exploring their connections to the scattered descendants of blacks, even though they may be citizens of dissimilar nations. During this period Owens traveled to meet and seek the advise of prominent sculptors such as Ed Hamilton and the late Marshall Fredericks. He has won three competitive grants and five public art commissions resulting in eight sculptures; Two for public libraries in Florida and four bas-reliefs for the Corporation for Olympic Development in Atlanta (CODA).

 

Since the year 2000, Owens has preferred to sculpt on a commission basis and concentrate mostly on painting. His recently completed bronze portrait bust of Zora Neale Hurston will be installed in a park in DeLand, Florida. In 2006 his portrait of Bethune-Cookman College trustee Dr. Larry Handfield was installed on campus. Owens has also completed numerous portrait commissions in various mediums and small works in acrylic and pen & ink. His traditional portraiture is influenced by the work of his father Carl Owens, Everett Raymond Kinstler and Daniel Greene. Owens describes the human face as an "unfolding landscape that defies total exploration". He aspires to "develop an unorthodox style and paint portraits in such a way as to invite the viewer to consider meanings beyond the identity of the subject". His small works are vibrant, energetic miniature paintings of street scenes, dancers and nudes. Owens' erotic pen & ink drawings depict nude figures that appear to be hurled, flying, or in free fall.

Click Image to Enlarge


"Dr. Larry Handfield",
cast bronze


"Zora Neale Hurston",
cast bronze


"Pattern of Life",
cast bronze


"The Bond", cast bronze


"The Bond"
side view, cast bronze


"Reverend James Tate",
cast bronze


"Gifted Child", bonded bronze


"The Mix", bonded bronze


"Donald Karshan",
oil on canvas


"April", oil on canvas

 


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