I wanted to make a post about these awesome photos I managed to take when President Obama came to Galesburg, IL. Since I am back in my hometown for the summer and very close to Galesburg, my Aunt recommended that my sister and I wait in line for tickets to the event. They were free and all you had to do was wait in line which wasn't a big deal. The first thought I had about this was, "Oh wow I can get photos of this! Knowing my luck though I will get seated in back and be stuck with a lot of out of focus images." I was definitely wrong on that.
We showed up a few hours early to get seated and secured a great spot in line. We ended up roughly 20-30 feet away from the podium in the gymnasium at Knox College. He had a very nice speech on the current state of the economy and it definitely resonated with the city of Galesburg over the past twenty years. A city that once seen a boom in manufacturing positions that dwindled as foreign countries seen them land on their shores just because it was cheaper. This is a story that is common across many towns here in America these days as this economy spins down the labyrinth. It gave me a great idea though to start on a new project that will end up being a complete photography show, a short film and a booklet. All three together with the same themes and same imagery. Stories and quotes pulled from all sides politically and create the story of what's happened in my lifetime.
When I was a kid my Dad was like a lot of people here in the area. He had worked at Butler Manufacturing in Galesburg before they shipped off overseas. This is a very common scenario though. Countless friend's parents and members of the community had jobs at places like Maytag, Butler, and a few other smaller places in the city. Eventually as time went on it elevated the unemployment rate of the area and affecting other businesses which closed their doors and people's state of mind with financial stability. It's a huge mess that neither side can seem to agree on even when their country needs them more than ever.
Whether you are Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, or what have you - he is still the President and any honorable American respects the high office. I managed to get some amazing photos that I will end up putting into the materials for the project in some manner.
Heres a sneak peak of one of them:
Here is a link to the feature. It is also pasted below as well.
Peoria Artist Ryan Dowell
By Jayme Eng / Photography by Jayme Eng
For some mothers, having an artsy child can be exciting, as long as they keep their artwork on paper or canvas. But Peoria artist Ryan Dowell enjoyed drawing on anything, including walls and sidewalks as well as on paper.
Ryan grew up in London Mills, Illinois where he was excited about art as a child. “My art teacher in grade school was really adamant about art and really helped to manifest my passion for art.” Though Ryan was taught about realism first, he always gravitated to a style that resembled the line-work of his childhood, which he continues to use in his art today.
When he graduated from high school, Ryan first attended Spoon River College in Canton, Illinois before attending Bradley University. There he’s currently working hard on achieving a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus in painting and sculpture. “At first I thought I was going to go into politics,” Ryan said, but art has always been something he enjoyed and realized he could make statements with his art.
By constantly looking at other artists and researching different topics, Ryan uses his own works of art to criticize social issues. “I want to entice my audience through humorous images but also get them thinking about the social issues I’m presenting.” Using humor, according to Ryan, rather than merely stating the social issue creates a different response. “Just saying it would make people sad, so I found that humor was a way to lightheartedly get people interested.”
Ryan also uses mixed media in his art, such as newspaper clippings that pertain to the issue he’s discussing in his art. “I can use acrylics, oil, pastel, and spray paint all on the same surface.” But before he even gets to his canvas, Ryan likes to research to help answer his question, “How do I get to the idea in my head?” Though he never sketches the ideas he has, Ryan likes to have a good idea on how to go about his ideas. He visits galleries in Chicago and St. Louis regularly to look at works by other artists while researching different techniques and ways to improve his own style.
As for influences, Ryan likes to look at street artists from the 80’s as well as classical painters to set up a painting. “I also like to look at Pop Art, but mostly for composition.”
For Ryan, executing his pieces is the most difficult for him, rather than researching. “I have an idea in my head, but my art and research can take me so many different directions.” To help solidify what he’s going to paint, Ryan outlines his work in chalk and adjusts as he continues.
Most of his canvases are also made by himself. “At Bradley, one of my art professors taught me to stretch canvases and I just ran with it.” Ryan also still draws on walls, only this time they aren’t limited to his house as they are in much more public places. “They get painted over a lot, but I’ve been taking photos of them when I realized I could put them in a gallery.” These pieces are also central around social commentary.
Though Ryan’s work isn’t in any galleries at the present, his work was featured in the 2012 Ciao & Friends Opening Art Exhibition at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.
When asked about his aspirations, Ryan stated that he wanted to go to graduate school to study art education. When asked why, he replied, “I had a lot of great art teachers growing up and I realized that fueled my desire to not only create but to teach art as well.”
Below is a new mixed media collage piece I finished today. I figured I would start a small series of images created around my previous themes and adding in as many random elements as I can. I love this area too because it gives me the chance of combining as many random elements of artist expression possible.
Also here is a sneak peak sketch of set of three paintings I am beginning. All three will be 5' by 3' and revolve around ideals brought forth by Disney. I could go ahead and explain where this is going to go as a set, but it would spoil all the fun without finished images to make my message evident.
Finally, I just got word about two new publications I got approved to be included in. As soon as they are public I will publish the details here. As Always, thanks for checking out my blog and be sure to check out my Facebook page as well.
I posted on here previously that I was working on a series of images based around my area of Central Illinois, where I've tracked down abandoned houses, businesses, factories, and anything along those lines. It's a series I wanted to capture the altering structures and landscape from when I was a child in the nineties and tie that in with how the economy and population has changed drastically. I've been exploring in these spots finding new places along the way, and seeing some truly unique places that are creating dramatic images.
One of the sights I've noticed around Fairview and London Mills, is the abundance of old farm houses that now are fenced with Cows, Chickens or Goats grazing inside the enclosed areas. I find these houses some of the most unique since they look so much different than anything else. The house below is one of said houses in the series. Thus far, I've found roughly 7 different locations like this with fenced animals occupying the former front yards of these aging structures.
I'm nearly completed with the series which so far has over one hundred finished images from last year and this year. I'm looking into possibly putting them all together into a PDF format to have in the iTunes book store. Possibly published versions through HP as well once all is said in done. I've also been pulling quotes and data together to present the themes I want explained through the series. These images really speak for themselves but the idea I'm setting forth really takes shape with some of the information I've found as well.
“It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.”
I post all the articles on this blog myself. I will post updates on artwork, new showcases of my work, magazines where I'm showcased and more. Be sure to check back often for new updates. Like my Facebook Page or follow me on Twitter to be kept up to date about new posts.