Urban Reverie

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.

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One Response to Urban Reverie

  1. Ruth Kusner Potts says:

    A visit to Ellarslie to see these pictures in person is a must! These forlorn buildings are brought to life on canvas and their personalities come through in color and brush strokes. It made me wonder the history of each building and why Mr. Fowler chose each individual building.

    Your blog is well said, Ilene, and I agree…it is love at first sight!

    Ruth Kusner Potts

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