Every summer, The Arts Council of Brazos Valley chooses an Artist in Residence, providing current art students or recent college graduates the opportunity to live in College Station and work on projects for three months. The artist then presents an exhibit at the end of the summer. 2019’s College Station Artist in Residence, Chris Gowan, is now presenting his “Exurbia” exhibit at The Arts Council in College Station until August 28.
After graduating in 2014 with a Visualization degree, Gowan went on to obtain a Master of Fine Arts in 2019. Both of Gowen’s parents are A&M Former Students, and he says he’s been close to and around the school a lot. Getting the College Station Artist in Residence opportunity meant a lot for Gowen. He says, “It was awesome to get the spot here so that I can paint, document and give back to this town that I’ve been in for almost a decade.”
During his childhood, Gowen would join his dad while he worked as an architect on different construction projects. Walking through the empty, under-construction houses impacted the way his artist’s eye catalogued things. He would see completed houses next to empty lots, and behind them, the alleyways would be countryside with barbed wire fences and pine trees growing.
Gowen began to question why he liked all of this. He says, “After thinking for a while, it came back to me that it was about the construction. It’s all these empty, built things that are sort of abandoned for a week at a time, and then the construction workers come in for a day, and then suddenly, it’s abandoned again.”
Exurbia has a total of 21 paintings in the collection, each one with a unique story and vision. The gallery has two levels. On the main floor are 11 of Gowen’s larger pieces that reflect his childhood experiences at work with his dad. The construction inspiration goes beyond the canvas because the paintings on the ground floor are titled after the street names of the houses he visited in his childhood.
The work you will find in the upper floor of the gallery is inspired from Gowen’s drives around the outskirts of town with a very different vision from the works on the first floor. These landscape portraits of the countryside are a stark contrast to the rest of the collection.
For the rest of the month, come out to the gallery and support this talented local artist. You’ll even have the opportunity to purchase some of his work! For more information about the Arts Council, please visit https://www.acbv.org.