Sculptor and Painter
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",
"Zora Neale Hurston",
"Pattern of Life",
"The Bond", cast bronze
side view, cast bronze
"Reverend James Tate",
"Gifted Child", bonded bronze
"The Mix", bonded bronze
oil on canvas
"April", oil on canvas
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