8. URI Library, 80 Washington Street

Peter Owen


About the Work

I began this project while living in Los Angeles in order to view l.a. in a way that I felt was counter to the typical experience. Los Angeles sprawl makes us dependent on cars, therefore the landscape is framed by the windshield. I recorded the city from the street level, on foot, a plein-air painter transplanted into the grimy and smog-glazed neighborhoods of Los Angeles. All of the drawings are done in alleyways, on sidewalks, in parking lots, at various times of day and night. The locations affect the markmaking - uncomfortable areas produce sketchy or nervous lines. And the travel affects them as well: a dozen panels in a backpack rub together and wear off areas of surfaces, revealing a lower strata of information, a previous location. My paintings deviate from plein-air painting in that each panel is a layered recording. The images are superimposed on one another, an accretion of landscape. After five years of using public space and city imagery as a platform to create paintings and drawings I’ve pulled back from working strictly outdoors and have transitioned into an indoor studio practice. This allows me to work on a larger scale. The paintings I’m working on currently are mash-ups of the areas I’ve lived and traveled through New York, Los Angeles and presently Providence and greater New England. Even though the lines lie exposed and naked on the paper, the compositions and layered imagery build to a mystery that is at the same time accessible and hidden. The paint drops in like anchors at various points of the compositions, the line work reads as mixed up folk tales of spaces lived in. From a distance, they look almost like sidewalk stains, but up close a multiplicity of lines refer to various places, tangled together. You can never get the whole, true story of a specific part of town; each place holds the varied experiences and memories of thousands of people. These paintings and drawings offer small observations of different spaces, clues about the variety of uses, truths, and histories of place.

About the Artist
In his paintings and drawings, Peter Owen explores the urban landscape, isolating and layering moments to reinterpret personal experience within public space. He has lived in Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, and New England, and his work draws from each of these places. A primarily self-taught artist, Owen has shown at D.E.N. Contemporary and The Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles, Brenda Taylor Gallery in New York, F.U.E.L. Gallery in Philadelphia, and The Fallout Gallery in Las Vegas.

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