By Miriam Raftery
June 28, 2010 (La Mesa) – “This is a wonderful opportunity for art collectors,” Shannon O’Dunn, owner of O’Dunn Fine Art in La Mesa, told East County Magazine. On Wednesday from 5-8 p.m., the gallery will host a reception and opening of a month-long exhibition of masterworks by Stanislaus J. “Stan” Sowinski, who died in January at his Rancho Bernardo residence at age 82.
His large-scale oil paintings and Byzantine-style icons grace the walls of many public buildings including city halls and a university, as well as corporate headquarters, restaurants, and prominent churches.
Best known for his impressionistic works, Sowinski was an extremely versatile painter, illustrator and teacher who also created paintings in styles ranging from abstract and expressionist scenes to realistic still-life images. A retired Naval officer who commanded a 21-ship squadron during the Vietnam war, Sowinski has had one-man showings in Washington D.C., tue United Kingdom, Japan and the Philippines.
Born in Milwaukee in 1927, he studied with California impressionist Alfred Mitchell and Wisconsin watercolor artist Edward Boerner. Later, he enrolled at the San Diego School of Art, and received a B.A. in Arts Education from San Diego State University. Sowinski is listed in AskArt, Davenport’s Guide, Who’s Who in American Art, and other directories of contemporary American artist.
The show will include 40 oil paintings from the Sowinski estate, priced at the same prices that comparable works sold for during the well-known artist’s lifetime. Works range from $600 for 8 x 10s up to $4,500 for a 32 x 40 work.
“These are masterworks—pieces done late in his life that reflect his maturity…The family would like to have these paintings be moved into homes where they will be appreciated,” said O’Dunn.
Many of the works reflect western themes and locations, including some in East County (such as a painting of the chapel at Warner Springs). Others portray Indians and portraits of people drawn from his travels to Mexico, Europe and other locations.
Some convey powerful emotion, such as “Little Buckaroo”, a portrait of a cowboy cradling a baby. Others are rich in detail, such as “Autumn Morning on the Yampa.” Others have touches of seductive whimsy, such as “Door’s Open, Sweetie!” a portrait of a harlot in a brothel.
Bill Pogue, a friend of Sowinski’s, stopped by the gallery during our interview to preview the works as O’Dunn was setting up for the show. “We went camping together,” he recalled. “He was ebullient—full of energy. He respected others; he knew all the artists in town and he supported all of them.”
O’Dunn nodded. “They all loved him,” she said.
The gallery owner marvels at Sowinski’s mastery of a wide variety of styles and subjects. “He was very versatile—and he was having fun,” she concluded.