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Wendy Reuer, Published July 29 2012

Making a Scene: Crowe’s exhibit is more than colors

If You Go

What: Bob Crowe Exhibit

her: Currently showing; ecce is open noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday

Where: ecce art + yoga, 216 Broadway, Fargo

FARGO – It was after 30 years in interior design that artist Bob Crowe decided he wanted to go back to school and finish his art degree.

While studying at Minnesota State University Moorhead, Crowe said he met two people who changed his life: Carl Oltvedt, a painting instructor at MSUM, and Dan Jones, a local painter.

Crowe was struggling with watercolors when he was handed pastels – sticks of pure powdered pigment – and told to try it.

Crowe was hooked.

Oltvedt and Jones also introduced him to a new painting method, plein air. Plein air is work done on location, outside, while looking directly at the subject. The method has long been used by impressionists and expressionists.

This month, ecce art + yoga features Crowe’s pastels, known in the metro area for their bright colors and intricate work.

Q: What’s new about this ecce exhibit?

A: For nine years, I did exclusively pastel.

I’ve gone back to my roots, done some watercolors, charcoals and some new pastels. The work is very large. I’m used to doing like 19 by 25 inches, and these are like 3 feet by 4 feet, or 4 feet by 5 feet. These are big pieces.

It’s a mix of some different processes; I guess you’d call it a mixed medium. I did some real large charcoals, too.

Why the additions?

My pastels are really bright in color and really intricate. After you do a painting like that – that’s almost 4 feet by 4 feet – it’s kind of like I want something out of color now just to get a different view point.

Why do charcoal?

I’ve worked in charcoal almost as long as I’ve been doing any art of any kind. As a student, you learn to draw with a charcoal, mainly because it’s cheap, it’s quick and it’s pure art because you leave out all the confusing colors. It’s a pure form.

Many artists use charcoal as an under drawing to set up the painting so that you’re not just winging it. Most of the artists I know do some kind of quick sketching with charcoal. It makes you focus on the shape not the color. It’s a great way to paint, it really is.

How has the show been going so far?

The reaction has been just great.

I would like to mention what a great gallery ecce is. I think it’s by far the best gallery between Chicago and the West Coast. It’s exactly the kind of place that an author wants to show his work.

Oftentimes the place your art is being shown is as important as the work itself.

Mark (Weiler, the owner) does such a great job hanging my work and everybody’s work.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530