There is no doubt that Western New York is an inspirational region. From its majestic four seasons to its proximity to landmark Great Lakes and Niagara Falls to its rich Native American cultural heritage and vibrant music scene, there is beauty that nearly everyone can appreciate found within the 716 area code.
While there are plenty of artistic individuals in Ellicottville, one thing the town lacked was an actual art gallery. Or at least that was the case until the recent opening of Gallery 14731 - an exhibition space and artisan gift shop with the focus of showcasing an array of local talent.
Currently being featured at Gallery 14731 are works by Buffalo’s own Peter Fowler (www.peterfowlerstudio.com), a seventeen year resident of Buffalo, NY who epitomizes the idea that with enough hard work and dedication, achieving a dream is always within your reach.
You see, Fowler came to Buffalo by way of Spain where he spent a decade pursuing his goal of becoming, in his words, “the Hemingway of paint.” How does one end up in Buffalo after that long of a stay in Spain, you ask? The same way a recent college graduate from Denver, CO with a degree in economics ends up living in Boston and producing a monthly publication for a computer consulting firm, which is exactly what Fowler ended up doing after college. Fowler’s keys to success have always been a sense of adventure, a little bit of being in the right place at the right time and a lot of self-actualization.
So the next time you find yourself walking through the village of Ellicottville, stop by Gallery 14731 at 5 East Washington Street and check out some of the pieces that Fowler has on display. See the ways that his time in Spain influenced his use of oils and how majestically he’s been able to take that style and meld it with his own unique Western New York flair. “All the work at the show is new and created for the event,” Fowler stated. “There is a whimsical piece in the show with birds and skiers tumbling down a run. I think it's my favorite.”
Fowler’s work is scheduled to be on display at Gallery 14731 through late March. Find information about Gallery 14731 on Facebook at facebook.com/gallery14731/ or call 716-541-7485.
INTERVIEW WITH PETER FOWLER
HEGEMAN: You were born in Colorado and spent a decade painting in Spain. What brought you to Buffalo and what is it about the area that keeps you in Buffalo?
FOWLER: After a decade in Spain I suddenly found myself longing to reconnect with friends and family in the USA. I decided to make my way back but did not want to resettle in Denver, my hometown. Part of me felt I should try a stint in NYC but my heart just wasn't up for such an adventure. A friend from Buffalo gave me a call and suggested I give Buffalo a try as it is cheaper to live in than NYC, close to NYC relatively, and has a strong cultural environment. There are many universities and two great art museums for example. I took his advice and seventeen years later I'm still here, with a wife and family, all started here in the snowy north.
HEGEMAN: Do you only work with oils or do you practice other forms of painting as well?
FOWLER: I work almost exclusively in oils although recently I've been experimenting with acrylic as an under painting.
HEGEMAN: You have a degree in economics. Could you please explain how you went from a potential career path in economics to an artist?
FOWLER: After leaving school with a degree in economics, I travelled to Boston with a vague interest in doing something in the ad business or graphic design. I had little qualifications for either but did land a job producing a monthly publication for a computer consulting firm. This job had me frequenting art stores for supplies to do paste up and one day the idea to buy paint grabbed my imagination.
HEGEMAN: Building off of that, when you first started painting, did it come natural to you? Was it an immediate groundbreaking moment where you knew that you wanted to paint for a living?
FOWLER: From the day I bought paint, I have been captivated by painting. I took some Saturday classes at the museum school in Boston and began my adventure with painting. I eventually left that first job in Boston and began a freelance graphics business with the then very new desktop publishing technology. This business eventually took me to San Francisco where I had my first painting show, and ultimately decided to travel to Spain and be the next Hemingway of paint. Spain is a long story but I maintained my painting lifestyle in Seville for ten years, drawing portraits and caricatures in the bars and beaches, plus scrambling at odd house painting jobs and more. I had some shows and modest success in contests both in Seville and Cadiz.
HEGEMAN: Who are your major influences in the art world? Do you draw from any certain styles and try to incorporate that into your own?
FOWLER: I have in recent years taken a long look at (J.M.W.) Turner's work. I would say his landscapes have influenced me greatly.
HEGEMAN: Would you say that Western New York influences your work greatly? Did Spain?
FOWLER: I believe Spain had a big influence on my work. I spent many trips marveling at the work of Goya, Velazquez, Ribera and more. I love Goyas' work with the figure and it influences much of my work when I paint interior scenes with people in them.
HEGEMAN: How familiar are you with Ellicottville? Do you go there often? What did you think when you were contacted about having your work in a gallery there?
FOWLER: I have only been to Ellicottville a few times so this is a treat to be able to visit again. I have friends who spend lots of time there and they often tell me to get my work down there. Finally I have done it thanks to the wonderful invitation from Emily. I am very excited to see how people react to my work.
HEGEMAN: You have your own gallery in Buffalo. How long has that been open? How has owning your own space allowed you to grow as an artist?
FOWLER: I'm really just focusing on showing my own work now and not trying to be a gallerist. I've found that artists are not great gallery owners, at least I wasn't, but I'm using the space and name to feature my work. So far so good. It's always a struggle.
HEGEMAN: What new projects do you have in the works that people should keep an eye open for?
FOWLER: I'm working on some commissions and starting some new work that I hope I can free myself up with and find some new direction.