Ric Rowlands Profile - Artweek.la October 2011

Back to Archives

Ric Rowland  And The  Politics Of Isolation

As to be expected from an artist embracing multi disciplines I as diverse as painting, sculpture and assemblage Rick Rowland is both a master of the unconventional and his own reinvention.

An artist since the tender age of 18, Rowland has spanned a vast career as artist and artisan, from being a broker of rare and valuable wood,  to custom painting motorcycles  racing mountain bikes and dabbling  semi jokingly as a part time Shaman.

Rowland also manned his own gallery for ten years from 1996-2006, the Goose Drank Wine Gallery, located in San Pedro; CA.  Showing his own works "Resin", "Dangerous Objects", "Hole in…"  he also showed various local artists, including Danielle Taber, Jim McKay, Elizabeth Saether, Neil Nagy, Jan Govarts, Dave Walker, Yoonjin Catherine Kim, Mariko Taniguchi, Yong Sin, Candace Gawne, and Perry Okimoto. The gallery was pivotal in monthly "First Thursday"  San Pedro Art Walks from I their inception until 2006.

His current incantation as a fine artist sees him devoted to assemblage and mixed media. He reveals, "I've been working with the medium for the past five years, with work  that deals with  various sections of my life. Roland says he's  influenced by indigenous culture  from Indian carvings to primitive African works and the native crafts of , Papua New Guinea.

"For the past five years, I've chosen  the medium of mixed media, created from beeswax  colored with various dried pigments," Ric says, adding, "The colors are created through using pigments and applying them via heating pads on colored wax. This can then be carved and manipulated to become a mixed media work."

Recounting visions of non traditionalists such as Jean Dubuffet, Anselm Kiefer and  Lawrence James Peck, Roland's current series see an emphasis on texture  and color, his encaustic technique giving his canvases a near organic quality.  

Asked about his art education, Roland  says he is the consummate autodidact. "I'm mostly self-taught, from a very early age. My education is experiential in nature and very multi-faceted. Never, for a moment, as far back as I can remember, did I doubt that art was my life. My life circumstances did not allow for a formal education although I did go to some community college in the seventies and  then I went on to study with guidance from learned artists. I spent considerable time and effort studying on my own while working several jobs even as I awkwardly continued to execute and show my art."

Roland recounts time spent living in Oregon juggling a career painting nights and  managing a timber business during the day. "Much of my discipline was placed on representational subject matter and though I accomplished a high skill level, my drive was toward the abstract."

He continues, "my interest focused on cultural and spiritually based art of mythological or tribal styles of sculpture and painting. This included an active study and work period in the Seattle area and in British Columbia, Canada, with the late Dudley Carter, famous for totemic and monumental scale wood sculpture in the Haida and Kwakiutl style."

Ric says that before arriving at his current beeswax styled work, he went through a period of sculpting abstract form in a variety of hard and soft wood species which encompassed mask carving and figurative pieces.

In terms of shows, previous career milestones have included The Grand Chair Affair Auction Project – 2005. An Auction for the benefit of the Warner Grand Theater in San Pedro, CA.  Rowland's entry piece named "Sweet Seat". Saw a basic pine chair converted to appear to be made of  honeycomb and honey. Spring loaded legs and bronze bees  were attached  to the chair by wires in such a way that when activated by touch  they created the illusion in sight and sound of a swarming beehive.

Art by the Sea - 1996Was a San Pedro based community art project on 7th Street sponsored by various city organizations in an effort to highlight all aspects of the rich artistic community found in  the area

Marymoore Park - 1986-7 saw Rowland employed by master sculptor Dudley Carter at Marymoore Park in Seattle WA to restore and preserve existing Haida totemic sculptures while collaborating on public art projects. 

Corvallis Riverfront Plaza Fountain Project – 1984 was a collaboration with designer David Andrew Scott.  The project saw the creation of three carved cedar elements 14' to 18' rising vertically from a glass tiled pedestal with a central upward shining light.

Nine bronze jets of water synchronized into a centralized stream to flow across a shallow pond and disappear down into a continuous opening at the perimeter providing a second water-dropping sound before being recycled through the fountain. The use of large cedar pieces and water  gave homage to major elements of Oregon's natural beauty, resources, and industry. 

Five years ago Rowland  opted to abandon the bustle of Hermosa Beach for  the self imposed exile of Sky Desert, where, he says, he can create in blissful isolation, removed from the distractions of the city.

Just a stone's throw from Joshua Tree National Park, Rowland's palatial studio is testament to his ingenuity and resourcefulness. The haunting vista of  meandering desert plains and a décor rich with  indigenous themed artifacts gives his space a spiritual quality, one highly personal and even sacred

Of his newfound isolated life, he confides, "LA is a challenge and embodies some world class talent, though the tranquility of the desert is great for the creative process. This is spartan detached living, I am very comfortable here and find it  very inspiring. I spent a lot of time in urban settings and opted to leave."

Of the realities of his isolation depriving him of an elevated public profile, Roland is nonchalant.  "I'm not trying to create an image, but I want to be successful, I'm hoping for another one person show though the ultimate testament to success is sustaining my function as an artist. I'm going through my third childhood and I can do anything I want to."

For more information about Ric Rowland see his website at http://rlrowland.artspan.com/links.php?112201