Architecture and Design

Scottsdale's Cattle Track Features Drawings from Architect Obie Bowman

Obie Bowman made a name for himself as an architect with a keen sensitivity for the natural world. Starting in the 1970s and continuing through to the present, Bowman's work on the Pacific Coast has garnered him numerous architecture and design awards. Recently, four of Bowman's houses were featured on the HGTV series Extreme Homes.

But this month, we will have the rare opportunity to see a different kind of work from the artist. Bowman will show about 100 of his drawings at Cattle Track Gallery in Scottsdale for a solo exhibition, titled "Memory, Order, and Organism."

See also: Inside ASU's New Step Gallery and Grant St. Studios in Phoenix's Warehouse District

Though Bowman now works and resides in California, this exhibition will not mark his first time in the Valley -- he received his architecture degree from ASU. During his time here, Bowman apprenticed with a number of well-known architects, including Paolo Soleri. While Soleri's thinking clearly influenced Bowman as an architect, the organic forms in Soleri's work are echoed in some of Bowman's drawing collection as well.

"I have always had an inherent feel for nature," Bowman says. His first foray into drawing resulted in a collection of what he calls Biomorphic Images. The pieces in the series are quite abstracted, but there are clear references to skeletal and cellular forms, giving the work some grounding in reality.

A subsequent series, With and Without Memory, takes the biomorphic imagery a step further, combining it with references to modern-day life. "It has to do with blending primordial life and life today," says Bowman. "I feel there's some kind of connection there. We may not have a memory of it, but I'm sure it's in our DNA."

Bowman began seriously making drawings three or four years ago when the economy crashed and architecture work was slow. But, he says, even with the improved financial situation, he still enjoys the process of seeing where the pen takes him. "I have some strong feelings about the natural landscape and all the plants and animals that live in it," says Bowman. "I've always experienced a real dichotomy as an architect: Every time I do some work, I am destroying part of what I revere." Drawing gives him a secondary medium for grappling with this duality.

Bowman's exhibition will include images from several series ("Vernacular Architecture," "Artists' and Architects' Portraits," "Biomorphic Images," and "With and Without Memory") as well as selections from his sketchbooks and other drawings dating back to the 1960s. "I hope I am giving people a lot to think about in the drawings -- not just a splash of color or a gap of space," says Bowman with a chuckle.

"Memory, Order, and Organism" will be on view at the Cattle Track Gallery from Thursday, February 13, to Saturday, March 8. The gallery is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. An opening reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on February 13. For more information, call 602-568-3356.

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Katrina Montgomery