Art in the Library: 10 Questions with William Rowe

William Rowe

FSU Libraries’ Art in the Library Committee organizes visual and performing arts programming in its spaces to enrich the library as an aesthetic and academic environment. A major part of this program includes exhibiting artwork drawn from the FSU student body on a semester-long basis.

William Rowe is a current graduate student in the FSU Department of Art Education. Rowe graduated with a BFA in Art at Florida State. People I Know, featuring a collection of recent paintings by Rowe, is on view at Dirac Science Library during the Fall 2022 semester. Leah Sherman, Visual & Performing Arts Librarian, and Art in the Library Chair had the privilege of interviewing Rowe about the exhibit. Below is the full interview.

FSU Libraries (FSU): Tell us about this show- give our readers a brief introduction to the work you are exhibiting with us this semester.

William Rowe (WR): These paintings all portray people who are personally close to me or they are self-portraits. Each work depicts a specific moment in time with the sitter, capturing the atmosphere of that moment. In the portraits of others that are included in People I Know, each of the subjects is a very close friend and or is my partner.

(FSU): What is your favorite work in this show? Tell us a little more about the story behind it.

(WR): Bedroom: I finished this one very quickly – just an hour or two – so it has painterly or messy energy. This aesthetic is satisfying to paint; it gives a nice, intimate vibe through its abstract atmosphere.
Staircase: Unlike Bedroom, this one took a long time. It was not a happy accident. It is gratifying in its own way, though, after putting many hours into its creation.

(FSU): What does your artwork represent about you? What message do you want to send out into the world through your art?

(WR): My paintings say that I like to paint and they say a lot about who I care about, as revealed in their subject matter. Each work carries a lot of the artist’s emotions, thoughts, and feelings projected onto the subjects. The goal with a lot of these works is to capture a feeling – an authentic moment in the painterly medium. Clear renderings of a moment, not fabricated narratives. These works are meant to show a real person in a real moment.

(FSU): How does being a student impact your creative process?

(WR): I made a lot of this work while in the BFA program – being a student pushed me to make more work. I find less opportunity now in grad school and have painted less in recent years. However, I have found a lot of creative time in the breaks between semesters.

(FSU): Is research part of your art-making process? If so, could you give us an idea of what that process is like? Where do you do research before you start making? Are there any specific kinds of information that are critical to your work?

(WR): My version of research is constantly looking at artists I like – not only following historical movements but also artists working right now. When painting I also work from photographic references. I often capture moments in photographs to revisit later in my paintings.

(FSU): Who are your biggest artistic influences?

(WR): Salman Toor is one painter working today that I admire. His work is abstract and not very realistic. The theme of many of his paintings speaks to his background as being Middle Eastern, queer, and an immigrant. He creates very complicated, complex narratives that center on these themes.
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec is a historical painter I am inspired by, especially his color palette and painterly style. I also enjoy his screen-printing and have done some screen-printing of my own as well.

(FSU): Do you have a preferred medium to work in?

(WR): Acrylic paint for sure, but I have done some work in oil. Overall I enjoy acrylic more because I find it better to work with, as a more flexible medium. I like working in gauche as well.

(FSU): How does art-making fit into your day-to-day life?

(WR): While I don’t paint for my current graduate degree, I work at Painting with a Twist and that gives me a lot of opportunity to paint outside of school. It’s a hands-on job where I practice copying and teaching. I also have my eye out for inspiration on a daily basis and I am frequently taking photos to return to later.

(FSU): What is your dream project or collaboration?

(WR): I would love to be part of a larger exhibition or project just dedicated to portraiture. I have exhibited before but not as often with many other painters, especially with painters more in dialogue with my own work around portraiture.

(FSU): Where can our readers learn more about you and your work?

(WR): Find more from William Rowe on Instagram @windforder

Are you an artist or a group of artists looking to exhibit your work? Interested in sharing your art with the FSU Community? Have a curated exhibit you’re ready to share? Submit an exhibition proposal for the spring semester by Sep 30, 2022. This semester the Art in Library Committee is accepting proposals to exhibit at the Dirac Science Library, on the main floor in the hallway surrounding the central stairwell and elevators. This space is viewed by hundreds of students, staff, and faculty a day and can accommodate 10-15 hanging works depending on the size. For more information and to submit your exhibition proposal, visit this link.

FSU Libraries Call for Art Exhibition Proposals

Art in the Library is launching its first-ever call for Art Exhibition Proposals to display a student art exhibit at the Dirac Science Library this upcoming Fall 2022 semester. The purpose of the Art in the Library committee is to bring more art into the libraries, and enrich the library environment as an aesthetic and academic space. As part of this initiative, the committee is calling for artists to submit Exhibition Proposals for the upcoming Fall semester.

Are you an artist or group of artists looking to exhibit your work? Interested in sharing your art with the FSU Community? Have a curated exhibit you’re ready to share? Submit an exhibition proposal for the fall semester by July 1, 2022. This semester the Art in Library Committee is accepting proposals to exhibit at the Dirac Science Library, on the main floor in the hallway surrounding the central stairwell and elevators. This space is viewed by hundreds of students, staff, and faculty a day and can accommodate 10-15 hanging works depending on the size. For more information and to submit your exhibition proposal, visit this link

Continue reading FSU Libraries Call for Art Exhibition Proposals

Art in the Library: Karl Zerbe

In fall 2021, FSU Libraries’ Art in the Library program launched its first exhibition on the library’s newly renovated second floor. The works on display highlight two interesting narratives: that of both library history and local art history. Gifted in the name of a former librarian, these four works by a former FSU Art faculty member had been taken out of view in the course of several library renovations throughout the recent decades but were recently rediscovered. With little institutional documentation to work with, next steps included investigating the provenance of these works, their relationship with the building, determining physical condition and preservation needs, and ultimately, deciding when, how, and where to (re)install them.

Owl, before reframing.
Tree Ducks, recently installation on the second floor of Strozier Library.

The four bird prints by FSU Professor of Art Karl Zerbe were donated to FSU Libraries in 1972 by the family of FSU Librarian Reno Wayne Bupp. They were to be installed in the Social Sciences Division, where Bupp had been the first department head when Strozier Library was opened in 1956. Although this department no longer exists, the second floor – the current floor where the prints are located – was the original home of the Social Sciences at FSU. The prints are part of a 1970 series of twelve serigraphs, each depicting birds seen by Zerbe either in the wild or in a zoo. The four on display on the second floor are Owl, Tree Ducks, Ostrich, and Sun Bitternies.

Floor plan of Strozier Library’s second floor from the 1956 Robert Manning Strozier Library Dedication Program. Image Courtesy of FSU Libraries Special Collections & Archives, http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_HUA_dedication_strozier_1956

Karl Zerbe (1903-1972) was a German-born American artist and educator. Zerbe studied chemistry in the 1920s at the Technische Hochschule in Friedberg, Germany, before studying painting under Josef Eberz at the Debschitz School in Munich. He fled Germany for the United States in 1937 when his work was labeled as “degenerate” by the Nazis and he soon became the Head of the Department of Painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. While in Massachusetts he was affiliated with the Boston Expressionist school of painting.

In 1955, Zerbe joined the Department of Art and Art History at Florida State University and continued in this position until his death in 1972. Zerbe had an avid interest in ornithology and created many paintings and photographs of local birds, including the works in this series. During his lifetime, Zerbe had many solo exhibitions at institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Today his work can be found in museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

“Karl Zerbe at work – Tallahassee, Florida, 25 May 1970.” State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/10262.

Reno Wayne Bupp (1910-1972) was born in Wayne Township, Ohio, and he earned a Master of Arts in History at Ohio State University in 1939. A veteran of World War II, Bupp completed a master’s degree in library science at Florida State University in 1950. He was the Head of FSU Libraries Social Sciences Division from 1959 to 1969 and he served on the FSU Faculty Senate during his tenure.

Dedication plate for Reno Wayne Bupp visible on each Zerbe print.