People who drop in the Blue Dharma Fine Art Gallery often wonder how many artists are represented in the hushed, well-lit space and are somewhat amazed to find out all the works are by Bill Bowers. The 65-year-old Sarasota transplant feels that fusing different styles of art flexes his creative muscles more than specializing in one method.
“I never want to be noted for just one style. That would be boring,” he says. “To me, that would be like eating your favorite food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No, no. Exploration is more important than anything.”
Bowers closed his gallery in Florida last year and moved to Asheville, where he had kept a secondary home for more than a decade — a place with fresh mountain air, a vibrant cultural community, and the home of his two sons.
The self-taught artist considers his new venue, located in Asheville’s iconic Grove Arcade, to be his “retirement gallery.”
“It gives me the ability to play with all of the different styles, from the Zen abstracts to the totems to the traditional. I’m doing everything,” he says. “Surrealism is my pet right now. It’s the genre I’m using along with the totems. The gallery is a culmination of art fusion. I’ll do something that looks like a classical landscape and then add a surrealistic geometric shape to it, or I’ll start off French impressionistic and the painting will become reversible. It’s just happening naturally.”
Totems have been an integral part of Bowers’ artistic repertoire since the birth of his oldest son, now 38, in Cape Cod. He took pieces of the latticework and gingerbread trim from the family home, fashioned a totem pole with mementos, and painted it as faux stone. He fell in love with the totem and has made hundreds for others — to signify births, deaths, weddings, graduations, and other milestones — as well as crafting larger totems for commercial spaces.
His well-appointed gallery acknowledges Bowers’ first career as an award-winning window dresser for department stores. Among other improvements, he added interior walls to the 550-square-foot space.
But it took 10 months for Bowers to find the proper locale to open shop. He needed a draw with excellent year-round foot traffic, a space to paint, some quiet hours, and, naturally, store-front windows.
“The display man in me, the ability to make visual merchandizing, has utilized the space to where management and owners are happy with how I’ve transformed this old clock shop,” he says.
His upcoming 66th birthday — on Valentine’s Day — won’t slow
“You don’t retire from creativity,” he says. “If anything happens at all, I foresee a larger space. Then, from there, encouraging people to tap into their creativity. When I’m not doing art, I’m doing spiritual counseling and mysticism, and [through that], I’m trying to get people to be inspired.
“For me, surrealism seems to bridge the subconscious, superconscious, spiritual, and earthly subject matter. To me, it is an infinite style.”
Bill Bowers, Blue Dharma Fine Art Gallery, Grove Arcade, 1 Page Ave Unit 137, Asheville. Bowers’ seasonal show “Winter Solstice and the Light of Earth” — a pairing of his paintings and totems with large crystals from gem-and-mineral shop Enter the Earth — runs Sunday, Dec. 1 through Tuesday, Dec. 31, with an opening reception on Friday, Dec. 6, 5-7pm. For more information, call 941-301-1409 or see bluedharmagallery.com.