Venvi Art Gallery is proud to present Vibrant Realities, a solo exhibition of paintings by former Tallahassee artist Julie Bowland. Bowland lived and worked in the Tallahassee art community for twenty-five years before moving to Valdosta, Georgia where she is a professor of art at Valdosta State University (VSU) and directs the VSU Dedo Maranville Fine Arts Gallery. This is Bowland’s the first solo exhibition in Tallahassee since moving in 2002.
Vibrant Realities will showcase new oil paintings of Bowland’s vibrantly colorful, thickly-textured landscapes. Bowland paints directly from nature, known in French as plein air or “open air” painting. Color is heightened and exaggerated; loose, energetic brushstrokes create bold, expressionistic interpretations of nature. Paintings in the show represent forests, marshes, mountains, swamps, springs, oceans, bluffs, and estuaries in Florida, Georgia, Utah, California and North Carolina. The scenes have a sense of primordial wilderness; there is almost never a hint of human influence or civilization. Trees, water and skies rule.
Bowland says of her process, “Color is everything to me: It expresses intensity of emotion as it defines space and form. It is exciting and inspiring to slather paint while engulfed in a wild swamp or forest, to dance with the elements of wind, wildlife, shifting light, and all the other uncontrollable aspects of nature. This joy and excitement drives me to make art. I think of my style of art as plein air expressionism.”
In the last few years Bowland has taken to remote waterways to paint from her canoe and kayak. Paddling into wild rivers and streams, she responds directly with oil, watercolor and mixed media. The aqueous mixed media paintings are bright and full of light and air, reflecting a serene energy that speaks of the place, as well as the artist’s feelings.
Bowland earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts at FSU, and Master of Fine Arts from Arizona State University. She formerly taught at both FSU and TCC, and was Director of the 621 Gallery, as well as the Arts in Public Places Director for the Tallahassee/Leon County Cultural Resources Commission, now Council on Culture & Arts (COCA.) In the last several years she has presented solo exhibitions at the Buchanan Museum of Art in Michigan; University of Mobile (Alabama;) Thomas University in Thomasville, Georgia; North Florida Community College in Madison; and at the Art & Design Society in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. Her work has been shown in Strzeminski Academy of Fine Arts, Lodz, Poland, and in juried and group shows in North Carolina, Louisiana, Indiana, Utah, Georgia and Florida. Her paintings are in the collections of the Buchanan (Michigan) Museum of Art, Museum of Arts and Sciences (Daytona Beach,) City of Tallahassee, Florida State College at Jacksonville, and many private offices and residences. Bowland also leads plein air painting workshops for adults and children. She has won numerous awards in juried exhibitions.
This exhibition represents a homecoming for the artist who has painted the watery swamps and fecund forests of the region since the nineteen-eighties. Vibrant Realities offers a joyful, color-filled experience of painterly exuberance.