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Charles Bowling

Charles Taylor Bowling, 1891-1985, a lithographer, as well as painter of still-life, landscape and urban scenes, was born in Quitman, Texas, and died in Dallas. Though a long-lived artist -- into his early nineties -- he gave up painting after 1965 due to failing eyesight. Bowling combined art with a job, having a long career as a draftsman and head of the drafting department at Texas Power and Light from 1916-1968.

In addition, Bowling got a late start as a fine artist, only beginning to paint in his mid-thirties while recovering from an illness. He studied with Alexandre Hogue, Frank Klepper, and with Olin Travis at the Dallas Art Institute, where he later was a teacher.

He taught at the Dallas Art Institute; and was a founding member of the Lone Star Printmakers. Bowling also belonged to the Dallas Art Association; Dallas Print Society; Frank Reaugh Art Club; Klepper Sketch Club; Southern States Art League; and Texas Fine Arts Association. He was also closely associated with The Dallas Nine, a group of painters, printmakers, and sculptors active in the 1930s and early 1940s, who painted the land and people of the Southwest.

His work is found in the following Texas collections: Museums of Abilene; Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, Austin; Dallas Museum of Art; Oak Cliff Society of Fine Arts, Dallas; Southern Methodist University, Dallas; San Antonio Art League; Witte Museum, San Antonio; Texas Fine Arts Association; Sulphur Springs Public Library; Torch Energy Advisors, Houston.

In 2003, the Dallas Museum of Art put on an exhibition, "Progressive Texas: Art at the Texas Centennial of 1936", which included Charles Bowling's work, along with that of other artists active in Dallas in the 1930s and 1940s, such as Jerry Bywaters, Otis Dozier, Alexandre Hogue, and Harry Carnohan.

Bowling's exhibitions include: Annual Allied Arts Exhibition, Dallas, Annual Texas Artists Circuit Exhibition, Oak Cliff Society of Fine Arts, Dallas and Annual Texas Artists Exhibition, Texas Centennial Exposition, Dallas and Lone Star Printmakers Circuit Exhibition.

There is conflicting information in reference literature about the actual time when he stopped painting.  It is known that the artist suffered from cataracts which cause a slow clouding effect to one's vision, and he is known to still have painted in 1962 (see Heritage auction December 2007).  In the book Texas Vision: The Barrett Collection (Southern Methodist University Press 2004) a reference under his biography states that he gave up painting in 1965.  Since he is known to have worked for the power company until 1968 we assume that his progressively failing eyesight caused him to stop painting sometime around/after 1965.

John and Deborah Powers, Texas Painters, Sculptors and Graphic Artists

Credit goes to Evelyn Roberson for the discussion about when Bowling stopped painting.


Biography from Foltz Fine Art



Charles T. Bowling, painter and lithographer active in the pre-World War II group of Regionalist artists known as the Dallas Nine, was born in June 1891 in Quitman, Texas, the fifth of eight children born to Robert W. and Grace Elizabeth (Long) Bowling. Shortly after Robert Bowling's death in 1900, the family moved to Dallas, where Charles attended public schools and worked part-time. Although he never completed high school, he cultivated his artistic skills through a series of sign-painting and draftsman jobs and began a forty-nine-year career as a draftsman and civil engineer for Texas Power and Light Company in 1916. He and Sadie Britt were married in Dallas around 1915; they had three sons and a daughter.

Bowling began studying fine art at age thirty-five, when a long convalescence at home left him with free time to sketch and paint. He subsequently studied with Olin H. Travis at the Dallas Art Institute and then pursued independent studies with Frank E. Klepper and Alexandre Hogue. Bowling developed a highly finished, realistic style that featured rural landscapes and urban scenes; he favored a subtle palette of grey, ochre, rust, and cool blue-green. He exhibited his work at the Dallas County Allied Arts Exhibition from 1930 to 1943, winning numerous purchase prizes and awards. During the Great Depression he befriended the Dallas circle of Regionalist artists and helped such artists as Otis M. Dozier and William Lester get drafting jobs. Bowling exhibited his work at the Texas Centennial Exposition (1936), the New York World's Fair (1939), and the Golden Gate Exposition (1939) and was honored with solo exhibitions at the Hockaday Junior College (1939) and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (1941).

Bowling was a charter member and president of the Lone Star Printmakers, a print circuit operated from 1938 to 1942 by a number of Dallas Regionalist artists. Bowling found his métier in lithography, and he quickly emerged as one of the dominant talents in the group. In 1941 he acquired a lithographic press and began printing his own and other artists' work. He mastered a technique characterized by compositional clarity, rich textural range, and skillful gradation of tones that reinforced the lonely, somber mood of many of his landscape prints, which generally included just one or two figures, if any. Frequently he invested inanimate objects such as the twisting limbs of a tree or a telephone pole with expressive pathos. He also favored urban scenes that focused on the "side where the seams are, featuring Dallas Little Mexico in such prints as Industrial Encroachment (1939).

Bowling exhibited his work in Pennsylvania, in New York, and throughout the South and Southwest during the following years. He was a member of the Dallas Art Association, the Dallas Print Society, the Klepper Art Club, the Texas Fine Arts Association, and the Southern States Art League; he served on the board of directors of the TFAA. He continued to produce art until 1959, when his failing vision forced him to stop. He retired from Texas Power and Light in 1965 and died of a heart attack at the C. C. Young nursing home in Dallas on July 27, 1985. He was buried at Restland Memorial Park.

In recognition of his friendship with Jerry Bywaters, Bowling's family donated twenty-six of his lithographs to the Jerry Bywaters Collection of Art of the Southwest at Southern Methodist University, which organized an exhibition of his work, The Lithographs of Charles T. Bowling (1891–1985), in 1991. Bowling's works are also included in the collections of the Witte Museum, San Antonio, the Archer M. Huntington Art Galleryqv at the University of Texas at Austin, the Museums of Abilene (renamed The Grace Museum in 1998), and the Dallas Museum of Art.

Selected Biographical and Career Highlights

1891, Born in Quitman
1910, Moves to Dallas
1916-1968, Draftsman for Texas Power and Light Company
1926, Begins to paint
Studies at Dallas Art Institute
Founding member of Lone Star Printmakers
1985, Dies in Dallas

Selected Exhibitions

1930-33, 1935, 1937-38, 1940-49, Annual Allied Arts Exhibition, Dallas
1934, 1937, Annual Texas Artists Exhibition, Fort Worth
1935, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts
1936, 1938, National Exhibition of American Art, Rockefeller Center, New York
1936, Texas Centennial Exposition, Dallas
1939, American Art Today Exhibition, New York World’s Fair
1940-44, 1946, Texas General Exhibition
1942, National Academy of Design, New York

Selected Public Collections

Museums of Abilene
Blanton Museum of Art, Austin
Dallas Museum of Art
Southern Methodist University, Dallas
Torch Collection, Torch Energy Advisors, Inc., Houston
Witte Museum, San Antonio
San Antonio Art League
Texas Fine Arts Association
The Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin

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