Brian Dowdall (1948-2018) - Outsider Art
Brian Dowdall was born in the small copper mining town of Anaconda, MT in 1948. Growing up in Montana, he spent most of his spare time hiking in the nearby mountains which is were he says he developed a strong kindred spirit with animals. He then spent most of the 1960s hitchhiking around the country and camping in national parks, caves, and wilderness areas. It was during this time that he experienced communal living and farming, traveling on a meditation yogi bus visiting spiritual ashrams, and even spending some time in Puerto Marquez, Mexico, living in a converted horse stable with an Indian friend.
Dowdall is best known for his paintings on cardboard done with tempura and house paint as well as his “sand creatures,” made with brown paper bags, sand, and various glues. Dowdall eventually settled down in Cocoa Beach, FL for 33 years before eventually relocating to Baltimore where he currently lives. During his time in Florida, Dowdall painted alongside many of the Southeast's folk masters including Mose Tolliver and Jimmy Lee Sudduth and traveled with the late artist, Purvis Young. His paintings are distinguished by his use of strong color patterns surrounding various animal spirits signifying energy patterns and “celebratory auras.”
“When I paint I use colors and animals and goddess images that are more loving than this world," says Dowdall. "These ancient energies of creation in animal spirits and the earlier ritual belief systems of the goddess or pagan belief systems are where I find inspiration. Very often I place animals and imaginary mermaids, goddesses, mythological characters or guardian angels together in my work that would not be true of the natural world. I want to show harmony. People tell me my work makes them happy." (Photo courtesy of the American Visionary Art Museum).