I'm so grateful for the times I had with my uncle, Bruce Bowersock. He was, without a doubt, the kindest person I have ever known. I'm sad to announce that he passed away on July 20th, 2017. I was fortunate enough to have had many conversations with him about art, design, and life in general. You will be greatly missed. Rest in peace.
HUNTINGTON - Bruce Bowersock was pretty good at sitting quietly in the corner of a coffee shop and simply letting his art do the talking.
And so his art will get the last word and his friends and admirers will get to share wonderful memories of the colorful and humbly talented painter, graphic designer, illustrator and teacher who died July 20 at the age of 79 at his home in Ona.
Bowersock's life celebration will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, at the art gallery he operated with his wife, Lillianne Bowersock - Watercolor Dreams Art Gallery, 1102 3rd Ave., Suite 104, Huntington, as well as at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6, at Bethesda United Methodist Church, 118 Bethesda Drive, Ona.
Described by Lillianne as "a friend to all who met him, explorer of the universe and master of a panoply of artistic styles and disciplines," Bowersock had studied at the Maryland Institute of Art and the Ringling School of Art and Design in Florida and served in the Maryland Air National Guard.
Bowersock, who moved to Huntington in 2001 after working as a professional illustrator and designer in Louisville, Kentucky, Baltimore and New Orleans, taught drawing, life drawing, watercolor and acrylics at Marshall University, the Huntington Museum of Art, Tamarack and the Renaissance Gallery.
He and his wife also taught regional workshops every year and individual students in their studio.
While Bowersock may have retired from being a professional advertising illustrator, he also found his joy outside of the pressure and deadlines just relaxing at a coffee shop or pub drawing.
Bowersock, whose works have been displayed in galleries around the region including Tamarack in Beckley, West Virginia, said in a 2011 interview with The Herald-Dispatch he could not help but start sketching when he sat down.
"Every moment we live, in the space we live in are positive things and negative energy, and so as an artist what do I do with it?" Bowersock said. "What's turning me on? ... I've always found my refuge from a lot of the world by just diving into an unknown pub or something and sitting there and looking around and sketching people and being with myself. I can stand all the noise around, but I would be by myself too. Then people just come up and want to know what I'm drawing."
It was then in 2011 that Bowersock put together "Daydreams and Doodles," an extensive and impressive napkin art exhibit at Watercolor Dreams studio.
In Baltimore, Bowersock, who lived near Johns Hopkins University, saw his art gain character when he got a studio above an iconic pub, The Dead End Saloon, in Fell's Point, a colonial port neighborhood in Baltimore that dates back to 1670.
"I was fascinated by Fell's Point, so a lot of the napkins were impressions of what I wanted to paint from my experiences down there," Bowersock said in 2011. "What things intrigued me and what things I could design some interesting compositions around."
No matter where he roamed, Bowersock said he always found a place to hang out and draw. After he retired, Bowersock moved in with his ailing mom in Towson, Maryland, to help take care of her before she died in 2000.
He found a coffee shop in a nearby Borders where he ended up having his art on the walls, meeting a regular group of friends who chilled there where they had tabletop art displays.
And when he moved to Ona in 2001, it was the Borders at the Huntington Mall where he drew, displayed his art and found new friends.
Bowersock, who had a one-man show at the co-op Renaissance Gallery of which he was a member and where he taught classes, said the idea for that napkin exhibit came from his wife talking with Thomas McChesney, who had been helping promote and fill the Heritage Station Shops.
"I have to thank my wife because she really is the one who has put me on the map here," Bowersock said back in 2011. "She has the ability to know most people and to converse with them. I'm just that laid-back artist dude who wants to be alone in my solitude and just do it because I have to. I think I've learned more from just going and observing, and that's always been my way walking out and looking around.
Bruce and Lillianne Bowersock operated the Watercolor Dreams Gallery out of the Masonic Building on the corner of 11th Street and 3rd Avenue from 2010 until they had to close in November 2016. They closed the gallery after Bowersock was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a blood disorder in which the body's bone marrow doesn't make enough new blood cells, according to the National Institutes of Health.
For more information about Bowersock's work, visit www.WaterColorDreamsArt.com. Online condolences may be expressed to the family at www.tri-statecremationsociety.com. In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to Hospice of Huntington or contributions in Bowersock's name for Bethesda United Methodist Church.