I HAVE A LOVE STORY TO TELL…

It started when I was 4 years old
when
I made my first structural artwork.

75 years later, making art is still miraculous to me.

1940: BORN AND RAISED IN LINCOLN NEBRASKA, but that was not my fault.

1945: I GOT REAL EXPERIENCE OF BEING AN ARTIST, ages 5 and 6

I made small plaster molds of animals. After I painted them, I put them in a basket and walked door to door selling them, escorted by my 8-year-old sister.

1951: FIRST GROUP ART SHOW, city-wide student show, age 11

1952: FIRST ELECTRICAL WORKS

At age 12, I made a conceptual desk lamp. At age 13, I made a crystal radio.

1958: UPON ENTERING THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA, I CHANGED MY MAJOR FROM ENGINEERING TO ART

1964 – 1972: FIRST ARCHIVAL PERIOD; ‘DIMENSIONAL SHIFT’

I took a photography class at university, and after graduating I started working with high-contrast black and clear photo transparencies on glass, mounted 4 inches in front of my painting on the same subject. This combination created what I called “push and pull of space.” These images shift with the viewer’s movement.

MY CONCEPT OF EXPANDING SPACE IN ART HAS CONTINUED WITH ME.


1964, ‘Dimensional Shift #1

1964: INDEPENDENT “LIGHT AND SPACE” IN NEBRASKA

I may have been one of the first artists outside Los Angeles to use the conceptual elements of “Light and Space” in art, even before there was a recognized named art movement. The California “Light and Space” movement was unknown to me until about 1978.

1965: MOVED TO LOS ANGELES TO PURSUE THE ARTS, age 25

I became inspired by the infinity of space joining with the vast horizon of the ocean.

1968: ROCK & ROLL WITH STAGE LIGHTING

These were my first mature experiences with the art of electric light.

1969: GOT A STRONG URGE TO TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF THE STATES

My first taste of being a global free spirit. While in Trinidad, West Indies, I appreciated my creative side and realized that someday I would become a professional artist.


1970, rejecting the norms in art, age 30

1971: FIRST YEARS OF BEING A FULL-TIME ARTIST, age 31

Silver Lake district, Los Angeles, CA: I was not happy with my early body of work from the 1960s, so I experimented to become more original and more interesting. By 1973, I had stopped looking at other art to avoid influences. I wanted to be original.

1973 – to now: EARLY CONTEMPORARY, SECOND ARCHIVAL PERIOD; BOXES

I was early into “Art and Technology,” using fluorescent, neon, and L.E.D. lighting inside sculpture. My conceptual art includes a primordial push and pull of darkness and light, which makes infinity art within the optically expanded space inside a mirror-box.


1973 my first self-portrait, with a good friend

1973: MY 10-YEAR COLLECTION OF COMPONENTS

(1) I experimented with “push and pull of space” since 1964. (2) I invented an original artform in 1973, which I call “infinity light and space.” (3) The artform is viewer interactive. (4) I focus on the phenomena of light and space in art by merging electric light and vacuum coated glass. (5) My minimalistic graphics become complex-looking when reflected hundreds of times inside geometric mirrored structures. (6) I use aerospace technology.

These components are my teachers, telling me their capabilities and limitations, which led me towards making a complex artform. From these rare parameters, I was able to create original art. My choices for making art is a mysterious set of coincidences, just like my new artform is mysterious looking onto itself.

MY 4TH DIMENSION

The viewer’s interactive kinetic movement is 4th dimensional: defined as a 3-D object moving through space and time. To complete my sculpture, viewer movement is necessary, and it  yields a 4th dimensional sensation.

In my 4-D art, like meditation, there are common sensory elements present: light and Darkness, balance and harmony, participation and stillness, the essence of infinity, inner Beauty and joy. I am a light and space sensationalist, and I want spectators to feel these qualities when looking into my art.

MY OPTICAL ILLUSIONS

I hope my art can draw the spectator into an environment of paradoxical contrasts – stillness yet motion, and inside the glass sculpture there is a visually extended space where it is physically impossible to extend that space.

1974 – 1977: THIRD ARCHIVAL PERIOD; COLOUR THEORY

During meditation studies I learned about the energy “chakra” system in the body. Each of the seven chakras is related to one color of the visible wavelengths of light. This led me to color theory studies, which fascinated me so much that my art images became open sequences of rainbows. My rainbows were not decorative rainbows and not about “flower children” in this era of the free spirit. I was parallel to them, but my free spirit led me to create art.

 

1974 – ‘Reflecting Rainbow Waves’ inside a 30” x 30” x 16” deep box.

               A piece I conceived while surfing at Santa Monica beach.

1975: MY FIRST GROUP MUSEUM EXHIBITION

San Francisco city-wide “Rainbow Shows:” My art was in both the Legion of Honor Museum and in the de Young Museum during this exhibition.

EXHIBITION REVIEW:

San Francisco Examiner 3/27/1975; by Frankenstein: “The light sculpture by Ray Howlett is the only artwork in this exhibition worthy to be displayed in a major art museum.”


1975. ‘Rainbow Vortex’ exhibited at the
de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA.
Image inside a 30” x 30” x 16” Deep box.

1976 – 1978: FOURTH ARCHIVAL PERIOD; REALISM

While exploring the world around me, I recognized my appreciation for the natural world. I turned images into pseudo realism inside my box-shapes.


1976
‘Portrait of Mom and Dad’ from photographs

1976: I MOVED MY STUDIO TO MALIBU, CAlIFORNIA

I wanted to get away from the congestion of the city, and I wanted to get closer to the infinity and dazzling light at the beach.


1977
Self-portrait, in my Malibu studio. Age 37

1978: I WAS ONE OF TWO FATHERS OF THE “DICHROISM” ART MOVEMENT

The most vital aspect of my artistic growth came with my discovery of California aerospace industries that produced “dichroic light filters.” These highly reflective thin-film coatings make color shift with different angles of view. 1978 onward, all my color is dichroism.

 


2004 ‘Victor Vasarely’
Detail image inside a 2-foot box.
My favorite example of Dichroism.

1978 to now: FIFTH ARCHIVAL PERIOD; TRIANGULAR

I grew curious to explore structural shapes beyond the boxes. One of the shapes I wanted to make required a light bulb that had not yet been invented. I was able to start this new series when the bulb became manufactured in 1983.


Pinnacle (Detail), 1983

1983: MOVED MY STUDIO TO SANTA MONICA, CA

 


Inside my Santa Monica studio:

A disappearing ghostly self-portrait, with me
stepping into a time-exposure photo of my
sculpture.

1984: MOVED MY STUDIO TO VENICE, CA

I soon realized that I was too shy to go meet the Light and Space artists of Venice, even though I was near the action and not so isolated as I was in Malibu. A highlight of this Venice period was getting into the Frederick Weisman art collection in Los Angeles.

 


Network Player, 1987
Inside the home of art collector
Frederick Weisman

1989: MOVED MY STUDIO TO TOPANGA, CA

Once again, I grew tired of being in the big city, and wanted to live again in the peaceful hills, but close enough to still have access to the Los Angeles art world.

I had been moving my studio too many times, taking too much time to take down and resetup. I decided to put my studio on wheels. I bought a 30-foot delivery truck and outfitted it into a working studio, with efficient workstations, and installed big windows all around. It was cost effective and a very efficient use of space

 

1990
Studio truck parked on a hillside in Topanga, with camouflage
nets covering the truck, where I continued to make my art.

1991: MOUNTAIN LIFE SUITS ME BEST

It seems like an unreasonable contrast between the three worlds I like best: reclusive mountain life, technology in my art, and the fine-art world. One alignment that I enjoy is the development of the new generation of science fiction films. One highlight for me was getting my art into one of the greatest film series, ‘Star Trek.’

 

1991

‘Star Trek, The Next Generation, Reunification Part 2’

1995: MOVED BACK TO LINCOLN, NEBRASKA, age 55

My father had passed away, mom was lonely, and there was a recession in the art market, so I drove my studio to Lincoln. This period was some of my best creative years because of the security in my life.

 

 

1997
At mother’s home in Lincoln, Nebraska

1998: SOLO MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS BEGAN

From my mother’s suggestion, I started making “presentation” road trips. She said, “People cannot understand this art by seeing only photographs or video; they need to see one to really know the art.” Traveling east of the Rockies, I presented to about 150 curators who wanted to see my work: 1997 to 2008. It paid off; 25 museums gave me solo exhibitions and 25 Museum collected my work.

2008: MY MOTHER PASSED AWAY

Her passing made me realize the futility of life. I saw that I had not contributed as much to humanity as I thought I could through my art. I was vain in my own way, so I took time off from art, after seeing there was a greater need in the world for my help.

2009 to 2016: TIME OFF FROM ART TO HELP SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT

2016: MY ART CAREER RESURRECTED, LIKE A MIRACLE

One day I got a phone call from a French art collector inquiring about my art, and “voila,” I started making art again for both our pleasures.

2017: THE COLLECTOR CONVINCED ME TO MOVE BACK TO CALIFORNIA

Los Angeles is where the center of the Light and Space art movement was still growing. However, I was reclusive, and wanted to live in the pine tree covered mountains. I am back in California, but far away from any city.

2017: MY CABIN IN THE CALIFORNIA MOUNTAINS

I bought a cabin in the Pine Mountains, A 2-hour drive north of Los Angeles. For me, the refreshing silent mountains is ideal for making my kind of light and space art.

 

 

Working inside my new studio, Pine Mountain, CA. Age 79.

2019: MY GOAL IS TO MAKE MAINLY MONUMENTAL SIZE ART

The new art will be “walk-through” light sculpture, to be like taking a short walk through a strange new world.

MY SELF REALIZATION

I wake up each morning to realize that with the birth of a new day I get to use my imagination and skills. It makes me marvel at what a person can do when filled with thankfulness and a free spirit.

I HAVE A LOVE STORY TO TELL:

IT STARTED WHEN I WAS 6 YEARS OLD AND I MADE MY FIRST ARTWORK CONSTRUCTION

75 YEARS LATER, WITH 2000+ SCULPTURES MADE, AND ART IS STILL THE BEST THING IN MY LIFE


1940 – BORN AND RAISED IN LINCOLN, NEBRASKA, but that was not my fault.

1946 – I GOT REAL EXPERIENCE OF BEING AN ARTIST, ages 6 and 7

I made small plaster casts from molds of animals. After I painted them, I put them in a basket and walked around the neighbourhood, going door to door selling them, escorted by my older sister.

1951 – FIRST GROUP ART SHOW, age 11

1952 – FIRST ELECTRICAL CONSTRUCTIONS

At age 12, I made a desk lamp. At age 13, I made a crystal radio.

1958 – UPON ENTERING THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA, I CHANGED MY MAJOR FROM ENGINEERING TO ART

1964 – EARLY CONTEMPORARY “PUSH AND PULL OF SPACE” IN MY ART

I took some photography classes at the University of Nebraska. After graduation, I started working with high-contrast photographic black and clear transparencies, with multimedia and glass, creating what I called “Push and pull of space,”

1964 – EARLY “LIGHT AND SPACE” IN MY ART

Still in Nebraska, I may have been the first artist outside Los Angeles to use elements of “Light and Space” art, even before there was a named movement.

1964 – A RARE SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE HAPPENED TO ME

The experience later became the driving force into my personal quest for spiritual and intellectual knowledge, becoming parallel to my personal life and artistic growth. To this day, I have an influence that gives me a desire to create art that evokes a blissful uplifting sensation.

1965 – MOVED TO LOS ANGELES TO PURSUE THE ARTS, age 25

Inspired by the infinity of open space joining with the vast horizon of the ocean.

1968 – ROCK & ROLL WITH MY STAGE LIGHTING

My first experiences with the art of electric light.

1969 – GOT A STRONG URGE TO TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF THE STATES, so I did

1971 – FIRST YEARS OF BEING A FULL-TIME ARTIST, age 31

Silver Lake district, Los Angeles, CA: I was not thrilled with my early body of work, so I committed to experiment to become more original and more interesting. I stopped looking at other art to avoid influences.

1973 – INFINITY IMAGES INSIDE REFLECTED YET CONTAINED SPACE + MYSTERIOUS ELECTRIC LIGHT + VIEWER INTERACTIVE MOVEMENT

Combined with technology, this became my unique and original artform. It was like I was lost, and then found my home.

1973 – MY EARLY CONTEMPORARY ART

I was an early artist to be related to “Art and Technology.” I was an early artist to use fluorescent, neon, and L.E.D. lighting to light my “light and space”elements. I was an early artist to incorporate viewer participation into my art. I was conceptual to incorporate a primordial push and pull of darkness and light and space, thus making infinity art.

1973 – MY LUCKY “LIGHT AND SPACE” ELEMENTS, A 10-YEAR COLLECTION

1) I experimented with “push and pull of space” since 1964; 2) invented an original artform in 1973, which is mysterious looking with complex precision constructions; 3) the artform is viewer interactive; 4) focused on the phenomena of light and space in art by using electric light, vacuum coated glass; 5) minimalism in geometric foundations and graphics; 6) used technology, and aerospace industries.  These elements are like my teachers, telling me their capabilities and limitations.  Then I am free to be at one with my materials and techniques.

I AM ALSO CONSIDERED A “TRANSITIONAL” ARTIST

The 1960s and 1970s technology in art was a powerful influence that helped to end the modern art movement and helped to start contemporary art.  The growth of the intellectual and technical side to making art was the most attractive to me.  But soon using the intellect led to conceptual thinking where any strange idea executed by an artist is also art; this then was the beginning of contemporary art, described as “cutting edge” in art.  Then the early contemporary art like mine became defined as transition art.

1975 – MY FIRST GROUP MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS

San Francisco city-wide Rainbow shows: I was in the “Legion of Honor Museum” and in the “de Young Museum.”

1976 – I MOVED MY STUDIO TO MALIBU, CA,

I wanted to get away from the congestion of the city, and I wanted to get closer to the infinity at the beach.

1964 TO 1978 – A GRAND COINCIDENCE

The Venice “Light and Space” movement remained unknown to me until 1978

1978 – I WAS ONE OF TWO FATHERS OF THE “DICHROISM” ART MOVEMENT

The most important aspect of my artistic growth came with my discovery of the California based aerospace industries that produced dichroic glass light filters. My good friend and window artist Murray Schwartz and I are the fathers of the international movement of dichroism in glass art, where hundreds of artists are now using dichroic glass in their artworks.

1984 – MOVED MY STUDIO TO VENICE, CA

1989 – MOVED MY STUDIO TO TOPANGA, CA

1995 – MOVED BACK TO LINCOLN, NEBRASKA, age 55

I got to experience my mother’s final years.

1998 – SOLO MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS BEGIN

From my mother’s suggestion, I started making “show and tell” road trips while based back in Nebraska. Traveling east of the Rockies, I presented to about 150 curators who would let me show them my work; 1997 to 2007.

2009 to 2016 – AFTER MAKING MORE THAN 2000 LIGHT SCULPTURES, I TOOK SOME TIME OFF FROM ART

2016 – BACK AGAIN MAKING ART, age 76

2017 – MOVED BACK TO CALIFORNIA

I bought a cabin in the Pine Mountains, 2-hour drive north of LA.

2019 – STILL EXPERIMENTING WITH MY ARTFORM

I am planning to make a new genre of viewer participation art that I am calling “Walk-Through” light sculpture.  Stay tuned and see the first one in 2020.

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