Jean Lowe: The Evolutionary Cul-de-Sac
Published by Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2000)
Jean Lowe celebrates and critiques consumer culture by incorporating traditional styles with extra-ordinary techniques. Her works tend to speak to a sensibility of beauty, while also offering food for thought. “’Conceptual – Decorative’ is how I would describe the artistic tradition I work in. I’m engaged with specific social/political subject matter (particularly our relationship with other species and the environment, and how gender plays into that equation).” said Jean Lowe in 2002. In this publication we see Jean Lowe fuse the old with the new, her compelling context and social concerns for her art through the layout of her exhibit featured in the galleries at Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (Downtown) from June 10 to August 13, 2000.
About the Artist
Within all of Lowe’s social critique, the work still manages to be fun and inviting. Although large in size oftentimes, the work never overshadows the viewer, rather, it makes one rethink their place in this consumer culture and question society as a whole. By incorporating traditional styles with extra-ordinary techniques, the works tend to speak to a sensibility of beauty, while also offering food for thought.
“’Conceptual – Decorative’ is how I would describe the artistic tradition I work in. I’m engaged with specific social/political subject matter, (particularly our relationship with other species and the environment, and how gender plays into that equation), and esthetically, how a generous, decoratively informed, painterly and installation oriented visual esthetic can uniquely carry this content. It’s a pragmatic choice; I use the visual language of the home to critique the behavior of its inhabitants. In hybridizing elements of installation, decoration (particularly that of the 17th to 19th centuries), and political/social art traditions, my commitment is to continue making work that is both entertaining and seductive as well as intellectually provocative. I think this fusion of disparate elements and commitment to viewer engagement is the strength of my work. My hope is to continue making work that aspires to speak both to the art world and the other public; balancing populism with tough, critically informed content and form.”
— Jean Lowe, 2002
In a 2007 review about Lowe’s exhibition of papier-mache books on display at the Rosamund Felsen Gallery in Los Angeles, Leah Ollman writes for the Los Angeles Times:
“Lowe is a satirist in the grand tradition of Daumier, Hogarth and Nast. Her closest contemporary counterparts may be Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. Like them, Lowe adopts an existing credible, authoritative genre and injects it with wry style to lay bare the flaws and foibles of the status quo.”