The legacy and impact of David Bowie’s spectacular career as a performer will ring for years to come. His influence on the arts of music and film has been discussed and shown many times since his passing in January. But his artistic shadow was cast far beyond these mediums of creative expression.
The Monongalia Arts Center has brought together a collection of artwork, ranging from spontaneous sculptures to oil paintings on canvas, all focusing on and inspired by Bowie. There are more than 25 artists’ work in the gallery, and though they all share something in common, they all depict a different touch of Ziggy Stardust. The exhibit was organized by John Michael Barone and presented by The Artist Collective in collaboration with The Retro-tique, Alien Gold and MAC.
The entire Davis Gallery, which is on the second floor of the MAC, is filled with this art. At the top of the stairs the lights focus on a large print of Bowie’s face. It is repeatedly imprinted over a sea of stars, surrounded by the words “For the love of David Bowie,” the name of the exhibit. As one would expect, the gallery’s rooms are full of vibrant colors and glittering textures. Many of the pieces are portraits of Bowie from different stages in his career and in his self-exploration. There are also inspired pieces showing chaotic elements and figures connecting in imaginative ways as only a Bowie album could produce.
Some of these items are for sale or have already been sold, while others are not for sale because of their meaning to the artist. There are mixed media creations, masks, sculptures, paintings varying in size and shape and more to be seen adorning the walls.
The first piece that really stuck out is “Stardust,” painted by Robert Summers. It was done in a narrow, horizontal canvas drawing your eyes to the middle of the image. Bowie’s facial outline is visible, along with his nose and piercing green eyes, as it slowly fades into pure white as it gets closer to the edge of the frame. On Bowie’s right eye is the trademark red and blue lightning bolt signifying his alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust. The slow transition into the white could symbolize his ascent to some sort of heavenly being after his death, or from another perspective, it could depict Stardust coming into this world from a pure, unbelievable place.
Barone had some of his art on display in “For the Love of David Bowie” as well. His style is very eclectic and psychedelic, as if he designed art schemes for Adult Swim programming. But this artist’s attention to detail, even the wackiest ones, is what makes his art so fascinating. He had paintings at the exhibit, but he also had a found object sculpture hanging up called “The Secular Ethics of Ziggy Stardust.” The dynamic color contrast is what catches the eye with his pieces, but up close the detail is what mystifies the viewer. The sculpture contained Jesus poking his head out of a bright pink pot with the lightning bolt across his eye, seagulls flying overhead, and a black and gold striped cherub using all its might to keep the pot lifted. The randomness of it seems to dissolve the longer you look at it.
There are so many more amazing works of art on display in the Davis Gallery commemorating David Bowie. The exhibit is on display through April 2 at the MAC. For more information please visit, http://monartscenter.com/.