Bozeman artist Jade Lowder paints places "everyone sees and no one pays attention to"

Name: Jade Lowder

Lives in: Bozeman, Mont., where he works as an artist and teaches at Montana State University

Artistic media: “I would consider myself a painter, first and foremost.” Lowder usually works with oil on canvas or paper, but at times has integrated three-dimensional elements -- a scaffold or a wall, for example -- that alters how people interact with a painting.

Art beginnings: “It’s always been something I’ve done.” From his earliest memories, there was always a stack of paper and a pen or pencil around -- on the kitchen table, along on car rides, in hotel rooms where he’d fill the stationary tablet with drawings he’d leave in the room.   

Education: After going to film school and realizing it wasn’t for him, Lowder earned a bachelor’s degree in painting from MSU. It was a drawing professor, not a class or a technique, that helped him understand what he needed to be doing. How? “It was just that I met somebody that did the thing that I wanted to do.” He later earned a master’s degree at Washington State University.

Evolution of style: Lowder’s artistic style has changed significantly since his years as an undergrad. He credits the shift to a graduate professor that “cracked the whip” on his production. As he started painting more quickly, his style changed -- for the better. “That was how I wanted to paint the whole time.”

Loosening up: Besides painting faster, Lowder began to impose various arbitrary “rules” on his process, like painting while standing on a chair. These odd, ever-changing parameters stretched him and helped release him from a restrictive mental space. “I found there was more I could do with painting when I loosened up.”

On the theme of place: Lowder’s work largely features a setting of some sort -- structures like a building interior, a bridge, a street view. “Place is something that’s important to me,” he said. He suspects that moving around a lot as a kid influenced that. His work explores how these spaces affect our personas and identities.

On his process: Lowder takes a lot of pictures with his phone, capturing moments that seem to mean something more. You’ll see dashboards, windows, ceilings and porch lights that anchor him -- and his viewers -- firmly in a setting. “More than anything, they’re any place,” he said. “They’re places everyone sees but no one pays attention to.”

On his message: There isn’t one. Lowder isn’t trying to say anything as much as he’s trying to create a body of work that focuses on place. He patterns his approach to art after Anish Kapoor, known for his “Cloud Gate” piece in Chicago. If he wanted to make a big statement, he could, he said. Instead he heads into his studio admitting that he, too, is lost. He starts with foundational concepts and just lets the work be the work. Being present.

On this exhibit: Lowder’s paintings are appearing at Artisans of the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown alongside that of J. Casey Doyle, an associate professor of art and design at the University of Idaho. Doyle’s ceramic “Hir Brush” series explores the gender-neutral third person singular pronoun, hir.


WHAT: “Care So Much,” an exhibit featuring Jade Lowder and J. Casey Doyle

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, through Aug. 27

WHERE: Artisans at the Dahmen Barn, 419 N. Park Way, Uniontown

COST: Free

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