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All about Adam (Lowenbein)
I love living in "Tribecaville." Tribeca is a neighborhood in downtown New York City that I have called home for 21 years. I have lots of friends in the neighborhood, but there are always plenty more to meet.
A couple of weeks ago my friend, artist Bill Sullivan introduced me to his friend and studio mate Adam Lowenbein. They share a large studio space in Tribeca. Adam is a decorative painter and Bill thought it would be good for us to meet. Sitting down with Adam at a local coffee shop, we looked over his impressive portfolio. It's packed with all kinds of decorative painting, mostly commssioned by design duo Diamond Barratta. I figured out pretty quickly that Adam was indeed a nice guy and talented decorative painter, and that if you gave him a commission, he could do a spectacular job executing it. There were two specific pieces in his portfolio that made me pay attention, and, for me, set him apart from other decorative painters. It was two projects that Diamond Barratta had commissioned for their own homes. Clearly, I thought, these designers are their own best clients when it comes to decorative painting.
The faux bois floor in a country house, the diagonal thick yellow interupted stripes in the dining room...both just stunning. So this nice decorative painter guy has got my attention and it got me wondering what else he might have up his sleeve.
So we move on from the coffee shop and walk a half a block to his studio. This is when "nice guy Adam" turns into "quirky, wacky artist Adam" and "like" turns to "love." I wasn't expecting Adam to be wacky or quirky; he seemed so perfectly normal. On one wall of his studio, which is about 20-feet wide by 12-feet high, Adam displays an art installation that he has been working on for the last four years. He has never shown at a gallery and is waiting for someone to figure out how brilliant he is and show his work. We chatted for a while and I smiled for the entire 45 minutes I spent with him. The piece is a collage of flea market finds, images, small paintings (many of them self portraits), frames, etic. It goes on and on, but they create an intriguing delightful piece. There are images of splendid pies and jellos, ladders, ferris wheels, and lots of snowmen. What it all means I am not exactly sure, but I'd be happy to spend another two hours with Adam going through what all the images mean to him and where they come from. I have a feeling I would get a bit of a life story from him and that it would be fun to listen to.
I was wondering how he started decorative painting.
"I became a decorative painter by chance: a combination of opportunity when I graduated from art school and my own interest in painting as it relates to how I live in a space. I've always painted, and I've always loved personalizing my own spaces. The jobs just presented themselves along the way," said Adam. Also, I had a factory job right out of grad school painting furniture. Clients would order pieces cast from fiberglass, and I'd have to make it look like marble or stone or terra cotta. I learned a lot of technique at that job."
It was all starting to make sense.
From there, he showed me some of his other pieces: large photographs of still lifes that he set up in his studio in upstate New York. He's featured in the title role in most of the pieces and plays out scenes of this life. They are fascinating and I play into this kind of fantasy 100 percent. I just get it. What can I say? In one piece he is swimming, in another he is taken back into the story of Brigadoon. The backgrounds are all skillfully painted, furniture included, and then photographed. These pieces make me laugh; they are so quirky and delightful.
I wondered what his next project would be so asked him what he would love to do or what he thinks about doing.
"I'd love to paint a room. In fact, do an entire house as if I were painting a painting that one can walk through. For me, the idea of starting a space from clean white walls, white ceiling, white floor, and allowing myself to make a three-dimensional painting that wraps all around, plays with illusionary space, combines abstraction and figurative elements: trees, birds, water, etc.," Adam said. "I'm fascinated by the decorative qualities of objects like cakes, the patterned surfaces of animals, and I LOVE patterned costume, but I also love lines, spill marks, transparent washes--just pure painting. I love the idea of messing with where a traditional living space ends and where a pure visual experience begins."
Whatever you do next, Adam, please share it with me! Your work is pure pleasure!