ALBANY CENTER GALLERY PAYS TRIBUTE TO A SIGNIFICANT ALTAMONT ARTIST WITH THEN & NOW: ED COWLEY
Albany Center Gallery is pleased to present the solo exhibition Then & Now: Ed Cowley from Aug. 3 to Aug 31. The gallery’s annual Then and Now exhibit features work by artists who have shown in the gallery previously and whose careers have made a significant contribution to the local art community.
Ed Cowley is a painter and stained-glass artist based in Altamont. At the age of 18 he served in World War II in the 94th infantry division under General George Patton. This life-changing experience imbued Cowley with a patriotic sensibility and an interest in the corruption of society, consequentially impacting his artwork in numerous and subtle ways. One example of this is Cowley’s stained glass castle from 1995 titled Blue Castle with Bray Stone, which Cowley dedicated to his fellow soldiers Robert Higgins and John Burke. The castle features a flag marked “94” for his infantry division, making the connection that both life in infantry and stained-glass castles are fragile and delicate.
After the war, Cowley studied at Albright Art School and Buffalo State College, going on to receive an M.A. in fine arts from Columbia University. He began his career as a teacher in 1951 at The Milne School, and ended up serving as chairman of the University at Albany’s art department from 1956 to 1975. During his time there, Cowley expanded the art department from one faculty member to twenty, and helped to establish the University Art Museum.
Cowley is best known for his landscape paintings of simple houses and scenes in Altamont, which combine nostalgia and tranquility with an appreciation for geometric lines and details. While his style of painting and drawing ranges from realistic to cubist to architectural, Cowley's work is always recognizable. His imprint on the local art scene has come through publishing reviews and articles, curating and judging many local shows, and showcasing his work in exhibits. Among his most memorable contributions were Cowley's seven consecutive Hillside Shows, where he hung his artwork on the trees around his rural home. Cowley’s work is held in numerous regional collections, including the Albany Institute of History & Art, the Schenectady Museum, the Smith College Museum of Art, the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, the Picker Art Gallery at Colgate University, the Berkshire Museum, and the University Art Museum. Cowley has won many prestigious awards, includinga Ford Foundation fellowship to paint and study in Ireland and two SUNY Research Foundation awards.
An opening reception for Then and Now: Ed Cowley will be held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 3, at Albany Center Gallery, 39 Columbia Street, Albany, N.Y. The public is invited to attend.