I recently visited the New York City studio of artist Holton Rower, a fabulous far-West-Village space completely undetectable from outside, and reached by a precipitously steep staircase lined with twinkling lights.
Holton is perhaps best known for his super-bright, incredibly tactile poured paint works, which bridge the space between painting and sculpture, occupying a category all to themselves. He explained that he employs plastic paint for these pieces, working quickly to build their layers; though they take about 45 minutes to create, drying time can stretch up to three months.
A ‘pour’ work at Rower’s West Village space
The studio held a number of examples of other themes in his practice, including found-object assemblage culled from Manhattan’s streets and antique shops. A corner of the space was stacked high with an installation of tin first-aid kits, while elsewhere, popsicle sticks formed a hanging wall piece that evoked a delicate net or curtain.
Rower also pointed out some brightly-coloured figurative sculpture, created using plastic paint as well; the portrait-like pieces recalled cartoonish Renaissance busts. He mentioned that sculpture ran in his family, and these works were an homage to that history. Later, when I found out that Holton is a grandson of Alexander Calder, a veritable titan of sculpture, his desire to pay tribute to that tradition became all the more poignant.
That same weekend, at a collection visit to Bil Ehrlich’s incredible Flatiron district townhome, I was excited to see one of Rower’s pieces installed in a domestic setting. Bil seemed pretty amped-up as well—describing himself as “high on Holton’s work,” a fitting reaction to the psychedelic qualities of his hypnotic art.