Each year throughout Indianapolis, the month of May is a celebration of the event for which our city is best known. The “Welcome Race Fans” banners and checkered flags are hung out early in the month stirring up excitement for “the greatest spectacle in racing.” Whether you are a big race fan or not, it is hard to ignore the Indianapolis 500 if you live in this city, and the Harrison Center will do its part to add to the enthusiasm. In addition to the race theme reflected on the doorways and in the studios of many of the artists during Open Studio Night on May 3, in the Harrison Gallery the newest work by Quincy Owens is a nod to the colors and excitement of race day. His show is called, Throw Caution, and it is a celebration of the ability color has to create a powerful emotional response in any one of us.
I’ll start by saying that I have been in my studio which is down the hall from Quincy’s space for going on five years. In that time I have been consistently inspired by his diverse and prolific creating as well as the intense work ethic that drives him. Each time I have walked down the hall this month it has been so fun to see the pieces that will appear in this show as they develop.
These works are powerful for their size and for the color relationships within each one of them. The rectangle theme that is woven throughout each piece obviously reminds me of the flags that are so prevalent a part of racing tradition. The size of the paintings create a fitting metaphor for the largest sporting event in the world. The various color schemes are reminiscent of all the different people and things that come together during the 500 event to make it do unique and exciting, but the pieces also stand alone without references to anything outside of themselves.
In the artist’s words,”I wanted to create a body of work that invites the viewer to not only see the finished work but to feel as though they were present with the artist during the act of creation. I want the viewer to feel drawn into the work, to find areas that belong to them, places they find rest, contemplation and peace.”
I am reminded of the abstract expressionist painter, Mark Rothko, and the field of color paintings he is famous for. The purpose of these paintings, and the reason that fourteen of them hang in a chapel in Texas, is for meditation and contemplation. In the same way, Quincy is inviting those who view his work to let themselves be drawn into the colors and textures that resonate for them and to create a “place” for finding peace. It’s kind of interesting that a place that hosts possibly the loudest, brightest, most chaotic event on the planet has inspired paintings that invite the viewers to find peace and reflection.