Love. That’s what it was, at first sight, when West Windsor Arts Council President Ruth Kusner Potts brought me a postcard from Eric Fowler‘s exhibit at Ellarslie. Eric Fowler paints buildings, but these are not the edifices featured in The New York Times Home section. These are the worn-down buildings you pass while driving through some industrial landscape, en route to someplace better.
Sometimes, though, the sun hits it in just such a way that you can see the beauty that had been hidden by scruffy weeds, a rusted chain-ink fence, a bad paint job. He finds the awnings, the architectural details of windows and dormers, the signage, the window display. Even air conditioner units, exhaust fans, a public phone and fire hydrants become interesting in his vision.
“Most buildings have souls,” he writes. “I listen to lost buildings. I paint many older structures of urban blight. I give them a voice.” Some of his paintings are recognizable Trenton scenes.
“Once they held a special purpose,” he writes, “as a local tavern, an old bungalow, a small family business, a local meeting hall, maybe an apartment house or an old hay barn. They were built for a purpose. They were alive. Some will survive, yet most will be demolished. I love these lost souls, these old ghosts.” And I love the way he depicts them.
His web site presents a portfolio of book illustrations he’s done: A woman smoking a cigarette over a cup of coffee in the booth of a diner for a Viking/Penguin cover; a red-haired woman watching TV in the kitchen or an urban highrise for another Viking/Penguin cover; a little girl peering out the window of a dormer on a snowy night for the Winter Fiction Cover for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer; various food spreads for The New York Times; and many more. The world he creates seems safe, without people worrying about wars and financial collapse.
The exhibit, Cityscapes and Country Ceramics, includes the ceramic work of Sharon Kingsbury — I’ll write about her in a future post.