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Mark McDowell creates vibrantly colored still-life paintings that, through the use of puns and metaphor, construct a narrative social commentary. McDowell has often depicted objects taken from contemporary culture, often focusing on themes related to sideshows and the circus big top.
In 1993 McDowell attended his first performance of Circus Flora, a one-ring circus troupe from St. Louis. Years later, after developing a close friendship with its ringmaster and founder, the artist was recruited as a prop consultant and fabricator for Circus Flora’s life-sized interpretation of Cirque Calder, Alexander Calder’s multi-faceted miniature circus made from wire and found objects. (Debra Hopkins, Curator, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art)
McDowell received a BFA from Pennsylvania State University in 1976, moving to Arizona soon after. Over the last twenty-seven years Mc Dowell has had over twenty five solo exhibitions and numerous group exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout the United States. His works have been commissioned by McDonald’s International, Absolut Vodka, Harkins Theatres, Circus Flora, and many other corporations and private collectors.
Receiving awards from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Museum of Fine Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1998 he was named Artist of the Year by the Scottsdale Cultural Council. In the fall of 2001 the Midwest Museum of American Art in Indiana organized a twenty-year retrospective of McDowell’s work. Recently, the artist has been working with pencil on wood and recently published a book of his drawings.
Since 2004, Mark has been publishing books and portfolios in extremely limited editions with his Tiny Satellite Press and Cattle Track Press in Scottsdale and Santa Fe which specialize in photography and letterpress, both digital and vintage. He actively curates and tours exhibitions related to these publishing efforts. Exhibitions of his artwork have been limited inclusions in small exhibitions and some solo exhibitions. His work, when available, can be seen in Chicago and in Santa Fe but is generally available through commission only.