ARTTALK: J.D. Stowell, and The House of Borrego Springs Gallery


Last updated 10/22/2020 at 11:07am

By Elizabeth Rodriguez

The House of Borrego Springs Gallery began its autumn exhibitions with artist J.D. Stowell's Covido 19 paintings that organically evolved from Stowell's theme of profound anxiety, loss, helplessness impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Because of social distancing measures, The House of Borrego Springs Gallery normal ARTTALK series has been postponed indefinitely until further County directives. We took the opportunity to present a short mini printed version of ARTTALK for this issue.

The House of Borrego Springs Gallery: It was clear from the onset of COVID-19 that the first art exhibition of the 2020 season had to be COVID-19 related. Since early March, everywhere we look and what we observe and hear about the virus has dominated humanity's collective behavior emotionally, financially and spiritually. When I saw your new body of paintings J.D., I truly felt I was hit with yet another COVID-19 "bomb" of reality.

J.D. Stowell: Back in early April through September, I had the impulse to respond to the bombardment of information from the news media about the COVID-19 virus, patients, healthcare workers, isolation, victim's deaths, bereavement, temporary New York City morgues in refrigerated truck trailers and the tremendous loss of personal power. I reacted to that loss of personal power by painting in my outdoor studio. As an artist, I felt somewhat empowered to filter and document the over-abundance of information I witnessed every day. Painting about the coronavirus helped me to exercise my feelings and react by producing images I could later see as a progressive visual diary.

The House: Many of the paintings are, well, I'll say it, tough to look at because of the subject matter. Certainly illness, death and the afterlife are threaded from one painting to another inclusive of the color palate used for the entire series of 18 paintings.

J.D.: Well, yes. COVID-19 killed, kills and continues to kill, however, less that before. The paintings convey more than death. The early anxiety we all felt to some degree about the "invisible" virus sparked 24 hour a day uneasiness and our news media outlets rightfully reinforced extreme caution. Humanity was on pins and needles and glued to televisions and smart phones. Every day, our minds were swimming through statistics, info graphics, videos and other data. The color palate was chosen because it was the paint I had available during the height of the pandemic. I couldn't go out and buy paint even if I wanted to.

The House: The style and brush work is super loose and quick. One can see the movement of the brush pushing the paint aggressively, violently and slash-like. Is this how you normally paint?

J.D.: For this particular series, I worked spontaneously. No re-dos and every single painting is a one-time try. Normally, my painting style is tighter, more defined and detailed. The Covido 19 series demanded a harsher unforgiving treatment.

The House: You've said that the Covido 19 series is finished, however, the coronavirus is still present. Why end the series of paintings now?

J.D.: It was time to stop. I came to the end of what I needed to bring forward. If you look carefully at the installation and order of the paintings, there is a beginning, middle and ending. A natural ending.

The House: Will you be painting anymore?

J.D.: Yes, the series is finished, however, I am continuing to paint.

J.D. Stowell Covido 19 paintings are at The House of Borrego Springs Gallery until October 31. Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. located at 628 Palm Canyon Drive, 760.443.3300