RVA No. 13: Dave McDowell

by | May 29, 2013 | ART

A clash of childhood dreams and the reality of adulthood takes place in every image that Dave MacDowell produces. Battles between ideals, icons, and wild drugged-out scenarios fill in his canvases, and it can be disturbing. But his paintings are more statements than resolutions; they present no particular message, merely offering a glimpse into the madness that comes from being alive in a media driven, consumer driven world. We spoke to Dave recently and got a glimpse into his own personal madness.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE NEW ISSUE OF RVA MAGAZINE!


A clash of childhood dreams and the reality of adulthood takes place in every image that Dave MacDowell produces. Battles between ideals, icons, and wild drugged-out scenarios fill in his canvases, and it can be disturbing. But his paintings are more statements than resolutions; they present no particular message, merely offering a glimpse into the madness that comes from being alive in a media driven, consumer driven world. We spoke to Dave recently and got a glimpse into his own personal madness.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE NEW ISSUE OF RVA MAGAZINE!

I was totally surprised to find out you were self-taught. Did you not like the idea of art school? Or did you just feel like you didn’t need it?

I enrolled in the 13th Grade, and briefly went, but didn’t learn anything. I was always stoned, had bitchin’ girlfriends, and I just didn’t care. I got a gig at FantaCo in Albany, NY drawing comic books, until they went under. I worked three jobs, and gave up on art. Once I got married and was fed up with the corporate world, I cashed in my chips and said, “Fuck it. I’m going to learn how to paint.” And with that, a fire was ignited in my belly to finally commit to a talent laying dormant. It’s been about 6 years since, and now it’s all gone full circle. Now I have an ex-wife, my brain is fried, and I have a blossoming art career!

You obviously have a lot of pop culture references in your work. What’s the fascination with television and film that keeps you dipping into that well?

Everything that I’ve ever learned, I’ve learned from television. How to act in public, how to dance like a fool, and how to unhook bra straps. Isn’t that all ya really need, really?

How do you feel about Walt Disney in particular? You seem to have a love/hate relationship with the man himself and the company he created.

I love Disney, and know a lot of people who work for them. Study Disney! They will teach you everything that you need to know about marketing, branding, and warping impressionable minds for cash. Disney sells false hopes better than any corporate entity in the world. And for that, I am forever in their servitude and awe.

“The Dude” from The Big Lebowski–someone to look up to or make fun of?

Both. He is us, or a member of our families. We all know him. He’s real!

How do you feel about the work of Ron English? I love how you both rip and twist corporate advertising.

Ron’s a technical genius and I loved how he always “stuck it to the man.” Starting out in my career, if I had a clever idea, I usually had to check to see if Ron did it first, and usually he did. I don’t get why he’s in the Chris Brown circus, but I just have to believe that he’s making some kind of meta statement on the marriage of art, commerce, and domestic violence. I wanted to paint a portrait of [Chris Brown] with the same bruises as Rihanna, because that’s exactly what [Ron English] would do. Maybe the statement is “Fuck moral barometers if the money’s good?”–which is my favorite Gandhi quote, by the way.

You recently moved to LA. How has that been? Are you liking the West Coast better than Virginia?

I miss the East Coast and my kids and having a family. Los Angeles is a gigantic nuclear family. If you can wade through the fake manufactured lifestyles and sitting in traffic, LA is totally bitchin’, dude.

My all time favorite piece is “Pryor On Fire,” a pop icon trapped by Corporate America, burning and completely lost in his addiction. When you started to paint this one, did you set out with the imagery or the message first?

Always the message on paper first before I start drawing. A main ideas comes, and then it expands as far as you want. As long as there’s honesty and zero hypocrisy, you can pretty much do and say whatever you want.

Do you have a favorite piece?

I respect everything that I’ve done like it was a little kid of mine, birthed at whatever period of time that I was going through, but I don’t look back. This art world is a monster, and dreams have come true so fast that I had to dream bigger faster. It’s always time to make new babies.

You are missing one pop culture icon that almost every guy over 30 knows about. When is the Three-Titty Alien from Total Recall going to make it into a painting?

Maybe I never painted her out of respect to all the three-breasted prostitutes out there.

Thanks for the awesome, Tony! I love RVA Magazine!

http://www.macdowellstudio.com

Matt Ringer

Matt Ringer

A meat popsicle.
Topics:

more in art

The Theory Of Mural Return

RVA Street Art Festival celebrates the tenth anniversary of its first event in 2012 at the place where things began: the abandoned power plant along Richmond's Canal Walk where that first festival took place. The jury's still out on whether time really is a flat...

Democratizing A Masterpiece: The Sistine Chapel Comes To Stony Point

From now until October 9, the people of Richmond have the unique opportunity to see “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition” at Stony Point Fashion Park. I was given the chance to explore the exhibit and speak with Noah Espinola, a representative of See Global...

Dream-Swept Impressions

At Whistler to Cassatt: American Painters In France, on display now at the VMFA, viewers see American artists explore history through an expatriate's eye and move through the artistic evolution from tonalism to impressionism's attempt to capture life as it happens....

GalaxyCon’s Return to Richmond Was a Nonstop Fandom Party

2022 has meant the return of a ton of things that, back at the start of the pandemic, we thought were lost. Concerts. Theme parks. And now, the return of popular pop culture convention GalaxyCon to Richmond.  Over the course of one three-day weekend in March,...

Romeo and Juliet, Ballet-Style

Richmond Ballet's performance of Romeo & Juliet showed that the iconic Shakespeare play can still communicate a powerful message to audiences, even when the dialogue is replaced by dance. Last month at the Dominion Energy Center, the Richmond Ballet, alongside the...

Jennifer Rho: Wrapped In A World Of Quilts and Quilting

I was introduced to Flying Geese and Jennifer Rho a few weeks ago and fell down a rabbit hole of handmade items from in and around Richmond. In our modern technology-obsessed world, it might feel like backward thinking to embrace artisanal crafting, but with the world...

The Seven Bardos of Tsherin Sherpa

When the five lights of brilliant wisdom dawn, Fearlessly, bravely, may I know them as myself! When the forms of the Lords mild and fierce arise, Bold and fearless, may I recognize the between!...




Pin It on Pinterest

X