Airhead 2

"Airhead," by Keith Bowers 

Name: Keith Bowers

Occupation: "In addition to being an artist, I am a career journalist, occasional stage performer and perpetual fashion experiment. I am part of the Corvallis Art Guild and The Arts Center's exhibit committee."

Hometown: "It's complicated. I was a military kid so moved a lot and continued that as an adult. I lived in Corvallis in the 1990s and returned in 2016 with the intention to stay. The East Bay area of Alameda, Oakland and Berkeley will always have a homey feel. I came of age and spent a lot of my journalism career there and in San Francisco."

Exhibit: "Familiar Strangers"

Location: Art in the Valley Gallery, 209 SW Second St.

Media: "I paint almost exclusively with oil. I use various media and methods in my junk sculptures. I also do digital photography but it's not my primary focus."

About the exhibit: "Humor embraces horror through a cast of surreal, disjointed characters, brightly colored and starkly rendered by Keith Bowers in oil paint and junk sculpture."

Impact on viewers and inspiration: "I introduce questions through art, aiming to engage viewers and make them think about what they see. Most of my oil paintings are realistically rendered, detailed and precise, using strong colors that are almost cartoon-like. Yet my paintings as well as junk sculptures often depict characters that unite unlikely elements — human, ghost, mannequin, machine. They are simultaneously ambiguous and absolute. One might think of them as familiar strangers: Do they inhabit some alternate universe, or do they walk among us? An Oregon artist once said that if my works had a voice, they would say, 'I am a fact. Deal with me.'

"Through art I also illustrate my own story. I grew up as a military brat, my dad a Navy aviator and my mom an antique trader and artist. Involuntarily cast into this nomadic subculture whose members attempt to lead interesting, orderly lives while surrounded by advanced weaponry and symbols of death and glory, I inhabited the nexus of humor, horror and reflection. It's no wonder I came to embrace the surreal and the absurd."

Previous exhibits: "I have belonged to two cooperative galleries and several informal artist groups. During October my work is part of the Philomath Open Studios Tour. I have shown my work in galleries, coffeehouses, bookstores, tattoo shops and one very weird bakery since the mid-1990s in Corvallis and Philomath; Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; and California locales including Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, Alameda, Sacramento and San Jose."

What should people know: "Over the years I've helped organize a number of small art salons and other events devoted to food, wine and discussing and creating various forms of art, sometimes with a theatrical element. I would love to put on such events here and am open to hearing from people interested in the same."

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