Artist Steve Bower to exhibit water-based artwork for First Friday

PHOTO PROVIDED The artwork shown above is one of the most recent works from local artist Steve Bower, who will be hosting an exhibit at Barrel 135, 135 W. Third St.

For the month of August, Barrel 135, 135 W. Third St., will be displaying water­-­based artwork by Wellsboro native, Steve Bower. The exhibit will debut during this week’s First Friday in Williamsport. .

Bower has been a practicing artist for 45 years, working primarily in water-based media. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Art from Mansfield University and taught art for several years before becoming a professional fine artist.

Early on, he admired the work of Winslow Homer and nearly all impressionists.

“I cannot recall when I wasn’t interested in art, so I don’t know what prompted it,” he said. “My interest and emphasis has ebbed and flowed over the years, and has included many styles and media.”

Bower began in 1973 as a full-time fine artist, maintaining a studio in Wellsboro until 1988. That same year, he left art as a full-time profession to teach in the Southern Tioga School District and at Mansfield University as an adjunct professor specializing in drawing and water-based media.

Bower retired in 2015, and has since maintained a studio with his wife Rita at the Pajama Factory in Williamsport.

In creating his art, Bower looks for inspiration in the things he observes in the world around him, such as trees, flowers, light, environment, patterns, colors and more.

“I think it has most to do with how receptive I may be at any given time to all of the amazing visual stimulation that is always present,” he said.

Bower has been painting for 45 years, so at this point, painting is exhilarating and just pure fun for him.

“I paint trees very often, simply because they are so magnificent in so many subtle ways,” he said. “I spend most of my time pushing myself to experiment with themes, techniques and styles.”

Over his more than four decades as an artist, Bower has exhibited in numerous one-man, group and juried shows. Among his more notable shows were the American Watercolor Society, Pittsburgh Watercolor Society, Watercolor USA, and the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society.

At all of Bower’s shows, including this exhibition, visitors will see two distinctly different appearances in his artwork.

“One is watercolor, and it is as traditional and literal as you could imagine,” he said. “The creative aspect of the watercolor is the way I interpret themes. On the other hand, the remaining pieces are acrylic or mixed media that range from very straightforward images to abstract, heavily-textured designs that imply meaning rather than delineate it.”

For anyone who views Bower’s work, it would be easy to think that the work in one of his shows was made by several people, as many of his pieces are quite different from one another.

“I attribute this to the fact that I paint what I envision from things that I experience and sometimes that is best done with watercolor, or acrylic, or mixed media, or even markers and ink,” he said. “For me, each piece is an adventure, as most do not wind up being what they were initially intended to be — but the result is good.”

Bower said he finds it exceedingly difficult to imagine life without art, which for him can be exhilarating, frustrating, inspiring and enlightening; and as difficult to define as love and faith.

“I find it to be mind-boggling that I am engaged in a profession that requires me to invent and reinvent my mission constantly,” he said. “Making art is an ever-changing journey, where the moment you feel that you have arrived you realize that you are about to begin again. As an artist, you learn about and eagerly embrace the struggle to interpret what seems to be constantly in the mind’s eye.”

As we create, Bower believes that we are forever searching for a means to a message, whether it be through content, style or technique.

“If we are fortunate, we transcend all of this and connect with the viewer,” he said. “Art may be beautiful, provocative or inspiring, but regardless of its impact, the world is a much better place for its presence.”