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Born in 1934 in Bartica, British Guiana, Bowling moved to England in 1953. His first trip to the U.S. was in 1961, and by the late 1960s he was exhibiting with some of the best young black American artists of the day. While Bowling frequently moved between the metropoles of New York City and London, Skowhegan Green II is tied directly to the summer of 1984, when he was an artist-in-residence at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. As Bowling recalled, it was the first time he faced being so thoroughly enveloped by nature. “I felt the green in the Skowhegan area was so powerful a look that I just couldn’t ignore it.” The summer in Maine proved to be a pivotal one for Bowling’s artistic trajectory. Pushing the boundaries of nonrepresentational and accidental modes of abstract painting, he began experimenting with viscous acrylics and packing foam in the early 1980s.
Per Donor 7/12/2010: The painting is called Skowhegan Green II and was developed while Frank was a visiting artist in residence at Skowhegan in 1984. He had an exhibition at Colby College that year too. I have been working on Frank's work for some time and recognized the importance of this work for Maine. Thus, it has been my desire to bring the painting back to Maine and have it be part of a larger educational mission.
Frank specializes in acyclic painting and typically embeds things in his work that are part of his life or studio environment (morphine patches from a recent illness, etc). Skowhegan Green II represents a period in Frank's career when he was using foam to bring dimension and line to his work -- indeed it was something he perfected in the 1980s. The work, like many of Frank's works, is lush with landscape references -- and in this case it is clear. Frank greatly admired Constable's work and there is very much a sense of Frank's indebtedness to Constable herein,though abstract.