Reid Stowe

When Jean Michel Basquiat paints your portrait; you remain at sea alone in a 70 ft. schooner you built for 1152 days nonstop without re-supplying, a feat no other human has accomplished; you create 100 marvelous mixed media paintings on that very voyage while your boat’s integrity is compromised and flipped in high seas: you have earned the right to claim that you have lived an extraordinary life. But even more interesting is how that art reflects that life.

 

New York City may be a mixed media artist’s dream place. There is junk, ready-mades and just about anything you can think of that can be garnered from its streets to work into a painting. But at Sea? You must bring sand and dirt since you will not see land for several years, use sail canvas and sawdust from work done on the boat, burned pieces of old paintings and other replacement parts, each having its own worn history, in addition to paint.  The undulations of the boat and the course you take all become integral parts of the artwork. But most importantly, the spirits of sea Gods and those unfortunates entombed in Davy Jones locker work to ensure their presence is expressed by influencing the mind and soul.

 

Reid also traced images with the course of the schooner, 1000's of miles in circumference. He created the first GPS art written about in a world wide article in 1999 by the Associated Press and drew the shape of a sea turtle to remind the world of the ancient wisdom of Aesop’s fable the turtle and the hair--to go slowly but surely instead of fast and brash.  So his art also has social and uplifting intent.

 

Reid’s work can be understood from the point-of-view of artists like Basquiat whose work was an honest expression of innate, ubiquitous primitiveness. Alone on the ocean, in deep contemplation, sacred truths begin to reveal themselves. His art becomes the chalice that transforms the concept of the Self to action.  In the initial visual review of his work, color and form and composition shout abstraction. But upon a second more carefully study, a story in puzzle form points the way to divine. Forms are inspired by primitive sea life and rugged, raw land. Untamed images move with innate purpose and order in color only nature could provide.  Reid also collaged biographical material such as press clippings and photos into his work, completing the life cycle from the sea to the man. In Reid’s words:

 

All the treasures and junk incorporated into the art are imbued with the hopes, anguish and love of their own intensions. They were all suppose to have done something to help the missions on the sea succeed…Many did help…Others had high hopes but never made it off the schooner…

 

The art empowered Reid to accomplish this historic feat that no other human even attempted. In fact, there are only a few ocean voyagers that have gone over 100 days at sea. What the art gave to Reid in terms of strength, it took from him in terms of empowerment. A painting becomes a holy object that has the power to heal, transform and uplift the viewer. It is rich and deep in many aspects, so it reveals itself to the viewer in different ways over time. Owners of his paintings often say, I had the painting for years and never saw this or After my friend pointed this out, the painting looked different to me from then on. The content and look of the paintings doesn’t fit neatly

into any categories. Their story and look is original and different.

 

Critic Anthony Hayden- Stone recently wrote about Reid that:

 

The art world is his current voyage. And besides that, wintry Cape Horn is a ride in an amusement park.