Bowlby’s latest exhibit inspired by Italy visit
Dean Bowlby describes his first trip overseas as unbelievable.And it’s still hard for Bowlby to believe he sketched world-renowned musician Van Morrison as he played in an Italian piazza last summer.While capturing Italian cities and countrysides on canvas, the oil painter – whose “Every Picture Tells a Story” Main Street Gallery exhibit runs through Oct. 30 – traveled to Lucca. There, a surprise awaited.”It’s a beautiful medieval village and I went to the Piazza Napoleon. They were setting up for something, and it ended up being a Van Morrison concert,” said Bowlby, who painted 30 new pieces during his summer excursion. “I sat at a table at a café along the outside of the piazza. Van Morrison came out with a saxophone strapped to his chest. He just played incredibly.”Like many experiences Bowlby enjoyed in Italy, the Van Morrison performance was one he will never forget.”It was just a charming way to see something you would have to struggle for to see here,” said Bowlby, who studied with well-known Glenwood painter Dan Sprick in the ’80s. “I shared a table with a German couple, because everything in Europe is shared. A lady saw me drawing and sat down next to me.”Bowlby keeps a sketch of Morrison’s show in a journal he carried throughout the trip. The book includes sketches, notes and a few authentic Italian recipes.”It’s one sketchbook I keep hidden,” said Bowlby, who left many paintings behind as gifts to new friends, and was commissioned to paint more. “Sometimes I would be sitting under an olive tree waiting for the sun to go down and I would sketch people while they were talking to me. It even has recipes in it. I kind of lived like an Italian and ate wonderfully.”The Silt resident’s opportunity to paint in Italy arose when his son was studying film in Italy. Bowlby applied for his first passport, and soon after, he spent six weeks painting in several different regions of Italy.”I would have been happy as a clam to be painting in my backyard,” said Bowlby, a 1979 Glenwood Springs High School graduate. “(Traveling to Italy) was like jumping off the docks without learning to swim first.”Though far from Colorado, Bowlby was often reminded of his Western Slope home.”I was amazed at how much Tuscany and its landscape reminded me of here – besides the age of buildings,” he said. “I ran into some incredible people, locals who became good friends, even if we didn’t speak the same language. One friend put up my paintings in this little café and it turned into a party. Most people thought I was Italian.”While in Italy, Bowlby also visited Florence and many of the museums there.”I learned how to say ‘I don’t speak any English’ because it’s so crowded in Florence and speaking to people would take up an entire day,” he said. “That would take away from painting.”Bowlby’s summer-in-Italy goal was to experiment with light and color saturation, creating works of art influenced by his surroundings. Bowlby had no idea the Italian surroundings would influence him.”I went over there with the intent of carrying my little paint box … I ended up throwing away that box. I was much happier,” he said. “I left several paintings over there.”Like Morrison with just his sax, Bowlby has learned to travel light.”The more stuff you got, the more burdened you are,” he said. ” I can’t imagine traveling any other way.”Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Imagine Glenwood and The City of Glenwood Springs is slated to host a virtual town hall at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11.