Gaea's Column, 2016
cast and polished bronze with stone pedestal, ed. 1/2
29-1/2 x 8-1/2 x 9 inches
From press release of current exhibition at the gallery: Gene Owens’ veneration of the natural world is less a description and more an embodiment. His sculptures lean towards abstraction, and where the subject is identifiable, it often implies a human presence. His cast-bronze chairs, for instance, are to some extent defined by their relationship to the body. But the rational, functional geometries of those objects are destabilized by their construction. Their legs, seats and backs are represented as florid branches and vines: bristling with shoots, heavy with berries, and entirely unsuited for sitting. Owens pushes this transformation still further by encouraging chance and natural processes to intervene. He dips his wax models (from which the bronze chairs are cast) into alternately hot and cool vats of wax. The hot wax erodes the original structures; the cooling wax gloms on. The finished sculptures, cast and surfaced, are a compromise between human intentions and the more turbulent order of the world.
In another body of work, Owens imagines himself inside his forms. Rather than harnessing a force of nature, Owens essentially becomes one, tracing his surfaces until he senses a weak spot, some anomaly that might suggest a new limb or protuberance. Owens proceeds with the impulsive logic of an animating spirit, augmenting his sculptures where they seem to need it, and coaxing them from germination through to maturity.
This will be Owens’ first exhibition of new work in more than twenty years, and if the late efflorescence suggests anything, it’s that his process is a true collaboration with nature. The impetus to create can lie dormant for any number of reasons: unfavorable environment, change of circumstance, or just a seasonal cycle. It can be fickle and unpredictable. But once it takes root, it’s irrepressible.
Gene Owens (born 1931, Birdville, TX) received a BA from Texas Wesleyan College in Fort Worth, and an MFA from the University of Georgia in Athens. He has had solo exhibitions at the University of Georgia, Athens (1961); Fifth Avenue Gallery, Fort Worth (1961); Fort Worth Art Center (1964); Gallery in the Square, Fort Worth (1967); The New Gallery, Fort Worth (1980); and Retrospective: Gene Owens, Moudy Gallery, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX (1991). In 2012, The Old Jail Art Center in Albany, TX, organized a second retrospective exhibition of his work. His work is in the collection of the Old Jail Art Center, Albany, TX; the Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth; and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Forth Worth, TX. Owens lives and works in Cleburne, TX.