FALL RIVER – William Bowers’ paintings feature images as diverse the steeples at St. Anne’s Church, the Fall River Historical Society framed by its elaborate wrought-iron fence, and the Great Pyramids of Egypt, re-created from a friend’s photo from abroad.
After showing his work in group shows for several years, Bowers’ acrylic paintings are now featured in a solo exhibition at the Greater Fall River Art Association. Even before the exhibit opens on Saturday, Bowers said he already has a couple of commissions from people who became aware of his work while he was promoting the exhibit on social media.
Self-taught, Bowers said he started drawing as a kid, but his work took him into the field of distribution for his entire career.
Then about 10 years ago, he had a hip replacement. While he was home recuperating for 10 weeks, he started to do a little painting, he said.
Some of the first paintings he did were portraits of sports figures: Art Rooney, founder of the Pittsburg Steelers; Vince Lombardi; and others. He put an image of his Art Rooney painting on the internet and as luck would have it, he was contacted by a guy in Pittsburg who was planning an Art Rooney award dinner who wanted the painting to use in conjunction with the dinner.
That instant boost in his visibility fueled Bowers to keep on painting, though only a few hours a week at first. His work has been featured in group shows in galleries in Portsmouth, Westport and Cranston, Rhode Island, to name a few. In addition to selling his paintings through those shows, Bowers said people also commission him to do work through his website. The commissions are as varied as people’s cats and dogs and paintings in homage to a lost loved one. “Most of the people I deal with know me and they know my work and my style,” he said.
A native of Somerset, he said he did a painting of the former Somerset High School to use on invitations to the Class of 1969 reunion last year. Now that painting is hanging the new high school. Bowers and a group of his classmates took a tour of the new school with Bill Aguiar, principal of the Somerset Berkley Community Evening School. In turn, Bowers gifted the painting of the former school to Aguiar.
In creating his paintings, Bowers said he sometimes works from photographs and fortunately for him, he has some friends who are talented photographers and another who is a world traveler. “I paint portraits, landscapes, sea scenes — whatever floats my boat,” he said.
Bowers, who buys his supplies at Riverside Art, presented owner Bob LeComte Jr. with one of his paintings of Beacon Hill as a Christmas gift. When Bowers went back to the store, LeComte gifted Bowers with prints of that painting to sell at his show, the profits from which will be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
Bowers work will be on display at the Greater Fall River Art Association, 80 Belmont St., Fall River, through March. An opening reception, free and open to the public, will be held Saturday, March 7 from 4 to 7 p.m. Gallery hours are Fridays, 2 to 6 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. To arrange for a private tour of Bowers' work outside of gallery hours, contact him through his website at wj-bowers.pixels.com.
Email Linda Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org.