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Q + A with Michael Dowling

Michael Dowling is a Denver native who specializes in charcoal and oil works that are classically-inspired yet definitely contemporary. Dowling studied at Il Institio de Arte - Scola Lorenzo de Medici in Florence and with various teachers throughout Tuscany. Inspired by myths and lore and how they fit into Western culture, Dowling's work is bold and easily recognizable. He is represented by Leon Gallery in Denver, G44 in Colorado Springs, Blue Azul in California, The Breath in New York, and Giovanni Rossi in Miami.

We asked Michael a few questions about his work and what inspires him:


1) Where are you from? Where do you work/reside?

I was born and grew up in Denver. I live and work in Denver still.


2) Did you attend art school? Or are you self-taught?

I studied at Il Institito de Arte- Scola Lorenzo de Medici in Florence, then with my teachers at their private studios in Tuscany for a few more years.


3) How would you describe your style? What's your medium/media of choice?

I draw and paint with charcoal and oil. I have a very classical approach,my work looks like that classical with a sense of now.


4) What themes/philosophies/aesthetic principles guide your work?

The one theme that is always at play in my work is a search for how lore and myth work in our works today. I'm very interested in the repetitive stories that we see in many myth traditions and cultures. Lately I look at those traditions and try to see how they fit into the place I am now, specifically the west. My work always has that beginning, but I also let the imagery evolve and inform me as it comes together.


5) Are you associated with a gallery? Co-op? Collective?

I am represented by Leon in Denver, G44 inCo Spgs, Blue Azul in CA, The Breadth in NY, and Giovianni Rossi in Miami.


6) What does your creative process consist of? Any rituals/habits/superstitions?

I listen to one single album repeatedly and have for about 10 years. Every day I start with an 'empty drawing', a small drawing that isn't involved in my work otherwise and is just about studying the object being drawn.


7) What is the biggest challenge you face in making art? How do you work through it?

So many challenges. Right now my biggest challenge is time and schedule. I have kids and teach two days a week. It's making for too little studio time. I always face the challenges that being a full time artist and making my income from art create.


8) What drives you to create? What do you hope to achieve?

I really don't know. I can't remember a time that I didn't want to create things.


9) What is your earliest art-related memory? What/who gave you the art bug?

I've always had it. I have a drawing from kindergarten that was a class assignment about what you would pray for (Catholic school), I asked for friends and to be able to draw well. I didn't think I would really do anything more that play with it until I was 24 and finishing my first degree at CU. I took a basic painting class and changed my major the day after the class started. I mover to Italy to study formally about two years later.


10) Most influential artists? Dream collaboration?

My teachers in Italy; Rose Shakinovski and Claire Gavronsky


11) What especially fascinates you outside of art? Any secret talents/passions?

I like puzzles and puzzle games and I read bad sci fi quite a lot.


12) Rep your hood/haunts.

I spend my time at the studio and with my kids at home.


13) What role do you feel you play/aim to play in Denver's art community?

I feel very lucky to be in Colorado at a time that the region is producing some of the best art in the world. I don't say that lightly either. I see shows and meet artists all over the country and am getting back to traveling the world more. In the end, I want to just be an artist, just add my work to the conversation.


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