Upon entering Tony Dow’s property, the first thing the eye sees is this artist’s workshop he shares with his wife, Lauren. He has numerous wood working tools nestled together inside a quaint space with a beautiful canyon view that gives inspiration. A few steps outside the shop, there’s a pile of wood he’s collected from walks around Topanga. There are knotty pieces of wood that survived recent fires mixed with naturally gnarled wood. These are the rough beginnings of Dow’s art, just knotted and gnarled pieces of wood that will soon take shape into motion and balance and masculine and feminine.
By Kriss Perras
TJ: How did you get started in art?
DOW: My parents were very artistic. My Dad was a designer. He designed homes. My Mom was very artistic. She had a business that put gourds together in beautiful arrangements. She sent them to Bloomingdales in New York. I had some genes that I guess were somewhat creative. I love pastels and drawing. I’m not much of a drawer. I can’t recreate pen and ink drawings of things. I can do architectural kind of drawings. On my eighteenth birthday my folks bought me an acetylene torch. I started without any lessons. I just started putting things together. I’d always planned on doing artwork when I retired, because I was a director for fifteen years or so. So around 2000 I ended up retiring. That was a time when I thought I’ll put together 20 pieces and put together a show. They all were kind of the same. They all had that big base that goes down to a point. The figures have really small heads.
“A few steps outside the shop, there’s a pile of wood he’s collected from walks around Topanga. There are knotty pieces of wood that survived recent fires mixed with naturally gnarled wood. These are the rough beginnings of Dow’s art, just knotted and gnarled pieces of wood that will soon take shape into motion and balance and masculine and feminine.” Kriss Perras
TJ: They’re more about balance and movement.
DOW Then I started selling them in galleries. Then I was in a gallery in Beverly Hills right next to Spago. She sent a few of my photographs, unbeknownst to me, to France. Every year they have a show that was started by Rodin back in the 1800’s. It was a time when artists were getting tired of doing things for the nobility. They decided they wanted to have their own show to show their own work and sell their own work. So that’s what the show is about. And it’s still around today. There’s about 30 countries involved in it. The US had two sculptors, and I think three artists in oil. Unbeknownst to me she sent photographs of my work. It’s juried. The jury didn’t know I had any celebrity. So that was cool. They didn’t do it because of any celebrity aspect of things.
TJ: They did it because they liked your art.
DOW They picked a piece, and It was in the show. We went over. It was fun. It’s a big deal. A friend of mine who is a publicist got the word out. She called a friend at AP. It exploded all over the place that I had a sculptor in the Louvre as part of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts exhibition. I also had stuff in another really nice gallery which is probably for their population one of the most active art communities around. I sold a bunch of stuff out of there. I had things in Scottsdale, which is a pretty good art community, and things in Little Rock. Little Rock, Arkansas was really good. It was one of the better galleries in Little Rock. Then a guy calls me and says I’m putting together a gallery, celebrity only artists. He has a dozen fairly well-known celebrities. I sold a number of things. He got me a couple of commissions.
TJ: What about your Artifacts Series?
DOW: The Artifacts series. I was having something done to my teeth at the dentist. They give you, what is it, laughing gas? I was kind of dozing off, and I saw this piece. That’s how I got the concept for those pieces. Otherwise I’ll get things at night, or when I’m napping. That’s usually when. I don’t take a subject, and say I’d like to take a frog flying across the room, and then try to make one. I get these things in my head. Then I try to accomplish that, or something similar. Or sometimes I’ll start out trying to accomplish that, and it ends up completely different. Art. Who knows where it comes from? Even in directing I found that ideas you come up with as it’s happening in front of you are some of the best ideas. It’s the same with art. You try to do something. You think well this will be cool. A lot of people would not do that. They would want to draw it out, and be more organized. I just do it. Whatever comes into my mind that I think is going to look good, or I like the pieces to say something. I use cubes to represent masculine. Then the round ball to represent feminine. I like to have a some sort of statement or comment like that to the pieces.
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