Del Mar

John Dowell

The artist made this work, with its calligraphic marks cascading down sheets of paper, by drawing first in ink, and then adding colorful watercolor washes to amplify his linear gestures. The color, breadth, and intensity of the washes can appear to link the marks, draw them apart, or affect our sense of the paper as abstract space. The apparent spontaneity of the style belies the picture’s thoughtful composition. “Between 1970 and the early 1990s, a major element in Dowell art what's his search for a way to visually interpret poetry and music—particularly jazz. Read like notes on a musical score, the fine lines and watercolors provide passages of feeling that Dowell feels can be experienced and “performed” by the viewer. “I became aware that in jazz music, it was not just the notes but the intervals between them that became important. As a result, my drawings were not just about making a mark but rather thinking about the space that the mark makes.” This sense of space is evident in Del Mar, which literally means “by the sea,” inspired by the open vista viewed from the top of a mountain in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Mexico.” (Interview with John Dowell June 1, 2004) Source: Sajet, Kim. The Chemistry of Color: African American Artists in Philadelphia, 1970-1990. Philadelphia, PA: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 2005, pg. 54
Date of Birth
(b. 1941)
Watercolor and ink on paper
60 1/8 x 11 1/4 in. (152.7175 x 28.575 cm.)
Accession #
Credit Line
The Harold A. and Ann R. Sorgenti Collection of Contemporary African-American Art