Berry Bowl Portraits, 2020, oil on panel, 48 x 48 inches
McDowell: A Sense of Familiarity
The question of Italian cultural inﬂuences on one’s work is complicated. We have all become who we are through experience and nature, often with many of these inﬂuences being attained without conscious awareness. My own obvious connections to what is Italian (you might be wondering what a McDowell is doing here) are through my immigrant grandfather, Francesco Macellari, my mother, Provida Macellari, and our extended family residing near the junction formed by the territories of Lombardia, Piemonte, Liguria, and Emilia Romagna.
This is a family whose members have become sculptors, painters, designers, architects, and musicians. A cousin, for example, performs with La Scala in Milano. My mother, who earned an MFA in painting at her mature age, worked as an artist, an educator, and a fashion model when she was younger. Others have established publishing and printing companies (le stamperie). I have to confess that this half of my heritage has been the more attractive to me, with its eccentric conversations and opinions on life and art, with never-ending dinners which, when I was a youth, seemed to be interrupted only for museum visits. (This is not to dismiss my father, Samuel McDowell, his relatives, and their own fascinating story of Scottish cowboys homesteading in Texas—another story).
What also links me to my Italian roots is a sense of familiarity with certain places. My grandfather, Francesco, is buried on the mountains northeast of Genoa near the house where he and prior generations of the family were born, going back hundreds of years. I have had the good fortune of staying there often since I was a young boy and still return to Italy every year, with 2020 being an exception. All in all, my Italian heritage has grounded me, nourishing my passion for art and dedication to practice. I have been fortunate to have a family and place that has allowed me to grow through unlimited support for my career.
Revelation/Realization, 2020, oil on panel, 48 x 48 inches
McDowell studio in Connecticut
Photo: Paola Sica