his Harley... and UC Berkeley in the 60's...
in 1944, Hal Stowers, is a link between Old Florida and New Florida.
Hal grew up in a small log cabin in the woods of Safety Harbor, Florida.
He still lives in the same county, but Pinellas is now the most densely
populated, per square mile, county in the state of Florida. Across
the tidal flats and bay from his studio/residence, which is tucked
away on a mangrove rimmed bayou, are barrier islands with sugar white
beaches, sea oats, sand dunes, palm groves and mangrove forests. Standing
on one of these jewel-like islands, one can see to the west, the open
horizon, so dominant in Hal's art. To the east and far south is almost
continuous development including some areas of wall to wall high rise
buildings. All but a few of the high rises have been built since Hal's
childhood. It is this environment, juxtaposing pristine natural areas
and open water, with dense development, which has given rise to this
artist and his art.
Hal at age sixteen,
a young surfboard entrepreneur,
Clearwater Beach, Florida, 1960
Hal & B.J. taking a break in the Berkeley Hills, overlooking
San Francisco Bay - California, Summer 1968
summers of his teenage years on Clearwater Beach, renting out surfboards
he owned ... and watching, day after day, the dazzling coming and
going of sky, sand and sea. He rode to the island everyday on his
Harley, barefoot, in a bathing suit. A nature freak who always felt
he would be a creative person, he chose to study landscape architecture
and on a larger scale, regional design and planning. Professor Herrick
Smith, Chairman, Department of Landscape Architecture, at the University
of Florida, was one of Hals early mentors.
school at Berkeley, during the height of the "People's Park"
and "Haight/Ashbury" era of 1967-69, served as "future
shock," for this small town, Florida boy. Although Hal never
really liked being a student, he respected and loved the interface
with his active and cutting edge Berkeley professors including Garrett
Eckbo, then Chairman of the Department of Landscape Architecture,
College of Environmental Design, Donald Appleyard and the late J.B.
Jackson . He delighted in talking landscapes, life and motorcycles
with J.B. Jackson, and in having the opportunity to ride the "touring"
professor's BMW around the Berkeley hills. He elected to round out
his studies by enrolling in a course with noted sculptor Pomodoro.
Leaving Berkeley, he carried with him a wax positive which later was
cast in bronze.
||Back in Florida,
Hal, Chief of Planning,
Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council,
expressing his environmental concerns
to his home area on the Gulf of Mexico, he accepted a position
the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and was soon promoted
to Chief of Planning. He authored and illustrated a hand
book entitled REGIONAL DESIGN GUIDE. The publication won
a national award. After only eighteen months, he left the
TBRPC, and began painting canvases
of pristine natural areas that were fast becoming bulldozed
Since then, Stowers canvases, watercolors,
monotypes, mixed media, sculpture, limited edition original
lithographs, etching/aquatints, photogravures and digital
works have been shared with the public in group showings
and more than twenty one-person exhibitions. His art has
been avidly collected by hundreds of corporate and private
Hal in his studio, 1976,
painting a mangrove study,
Monochromatic Period 1971-77.
Photo by Gordon Myhte
LITTLE PALM ISLAND, FLORIDA KEYS - Under the coconut palms
and "starry starry night," B.J. and Hal celebrate
the 25th anniversary of first solo exhibition of environmental
art, and their 30th wedding anniversary, 1996.
Turn of the
Millennium Artist Hal Stowers
the years, recognition for Hal Stowers' art and environmental efforts
has come from important and diverse entities. The thread they share
is an increasing awareness and concern for the quality of our environment
and what we are leaving for future generations.
Stowers was proclaimed a "Natural Treasure,"
by Tampa Bay Area's Pinellas County, Florida, as part of the county's
75th Diamond Jubilee Celebration in 1987. He was asked to create the
Official Commemorative of this year-long celebration.
During the 1993 Legislative Session, Secretary of State Jim Smith and the Florida
Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs presented a three
month long, major retrospective one-person exhibition, in the twenty-second
floor Capitol Gallery, entitled "HAL STOWERS, WORLD ENVIRONMENTAL
ART. 'THE GULF TO THE CARIBBEAN.' " The
exhibition commemorated "The Year of the Gulf of Mexico,"
a program to protect and restore the Gulf environment, involving states
bordering the Gulf.
The Department of Landscape Architecture, College
of Architecture, University of Florida, recognized Hal Stowers as "Distinguished Landscape Architecture Alumnus
1993." Professor Emeritus and past
Chairman of the Department, Herrick H. Smith, says of his former student,
"He turned from one form of landscape architecture to another;
from an administrative, planning context to an illustrative and communicative
context that is still landscape architecture ... Landscape architecture
is an interesting blend of science and art and has a strong social
context -- now he explores that and everything else as a painter."
In 1995, Hal Stowers was elected a Full
Member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
The Florida Association of Realtors has
sponsored an ongoing exhibition, since 1991, at their state headquarters
in Orlando entitled, "HAL STOWERS, WORLD ENVIRONMENTAL ART -
'FLORIDA, TWO DECADES.'" In 1997 the organization acquired
the works in the exhibit as its permanent collection.
more of the story see "ARTIST
- WALKING TREE WHISPERS"