Dave Lowenstein disrupts traditional approaches to art


Quinten Sargent

Dave Lowenstein talks with Joseph Cornett, junior graphic design major about his site specific installment located in Missouri Southern’s Spiva Art Gallery located in the Fine Arts Complex. 

Quinten Sargent

Dave Lowenstein, a muralist, printmaker, and arts organizer based in Lawrence Ks., believes art should be seen without museum labels –a label summarizing contents of one or more galleries.  

Lowenstein, who has more than 20 public works throughout Kansas also has murals that can be seen in South Korea, Brazil and on the streets of Joplin, was welcomed to Missouri Southern’s Spiva Art Gallery on Feb. 11 to speak on his current site-specific art installation located in the gallery titled, ”At The End of The Day.”

The Art installation was set up by Lowensteinwith help from Christine Bentley, Associate Professor of Art and Gallery director, and immense help from students within the art department.

One mural seen in the gallery depicts a giant family wearing crown-molded frames around their heads using leaf blowers, to blow smaller humans doing daily activities away. Joseph Cornett, junior graphic design major, describes the painting as powerful.

“It really looks like a disconnect in family,” said Cornett, in response to the mural.

Aside from bringing art to the Southern community, Lowenstein also brought a less traditional way of interpreting art to the community.

In the introduction of his Artist Talk, Lowenstein referenced, The Wizard of Oz’s hidden metaphors and the current relevance to Langston Hughes’s poem, “Harlem.” In these examples, Lowenstein attempts to reiterate the importance of forming your own interpretations of visual art.

Lowenstein believes that all art shouldn’t be seen in an originalist viewpoint (fixed not being shaped by time or context), but from a more open-minded viewpoint, which allows for further interpretation and often times reinterpretation.

“Information of an artist shouldn’t be hidden, but the order it’s received should be switched,” said Lowenstein.

Margarita Antillon, freshman art major describes helping Lowenstein set up the the exhibit, “At the End of the Day,” as interesting to say the least.

Although Lowenstein likes to rather internalize his own ideas about his work, when asked about his current exhibit and its importance to MSSU’s campus he believes his ideas are specific to this region of the country.

“I was thinking how my own neighborhood was changing and the forces at work to change it for better or worse, said Lowenstein.

Lowenstein went on to say, “I think those ideas could be relevant just about anywhere but specifically this region.”

No stranger to this region, Lowenstein and fellow local artists were called upon to create a mural before the unfortunate events of 2011’s EF5 tornado, which swept through Joplin on May 22.

Post-Tornado, Lowenstein and fellow artist were then contacted again to revisit the idea of creating a mural. Lowenstein recalls questions of even continuing with the project but said ultimately a unanimous decision was made to follow through.

Jo Mueller, former Director of Spiva Center of the Arts, who worked with Lowenstein and other artists on this project recalls the sense of community the orchestration of this mural brought to the community.

“It was beautiful working with Dave and everyone else.  We knew the mural was something we had to do after seeing the community come together responding to the tragedy that took place,” said Mueller

The mural, “The Butterfly Effect,” located at the intersection of 15 and Main Street, collectively created by Lowenstein and other artists, was created as a representation of important things people lost and gained in the tragedy of the May 22 tornado.

Lowenstein’s installation of site-specific murals in Southern’s Spiva Art Gallery, titled,” At The End of the Day” will be on display until Feb. 18. The gallery’s winter hours are M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.