August 2, 2013


Death of Sculptor Larry Nowlan of Windsor Called a 'Big, Big Loss' (Alex Hanson, 8/01/13, Valley News)

Nowlan was still a student at the New York Academy of Art when he came to Cornish in 1995 as an artist-in-residence at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site.

"That first summer really kind of set the course for his career," Henry Duffy, curator at the historic site and a friend of Nowlan's, said Wednesday.

In short order, Nowlan went from graduate school to his first major commission, a set of large bronze figures for the National Wildland Firefighters Monument in Boise, Idaho.

Since then, Nowlan has worked steadily in the tradition of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, producing bronze memorials of great heft and emotional clarity for clients around the country. His work resides at the entrance to New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal, in the form of a bronze likeness of Ralph Kramden, Jackie Gleason's character in The Honeymooners. Outside Citizen's Bank Park in Nowlan's native Philadelphia is a sculpture of legendary Phillies announcer Harry Kalas. The University of Iowa hosts at least three works by Nowlan, who had a particular gift for recreating the grace and power of sports.

More recent work includes a monument at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass., a series of bas relief portraits of chefs and vintners for the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, Calif., and a pair of monuments commissioned by the city of Dublin, Ireland in honor of Saint-Gaudens, who was born in Ireland. [...]

As a figurative artist starting out in the mid-1990s, Nowlan was working against the tide of abstraction that had come to dominate artistic expression.

But Nowlan took to sculpture as a true calling. His grandfather Philip Nowlan was the creator of Buck Rogers. Nowlan studied art in college, at Millersville University in Millersville, Pa., but went to work afterward as an art director and designer at a Philadelphia advertising agency. It paid the bills but he was miserable, he told the Valley News in 1999. His interest in sculpture was sparked by a chance encounter with the works of Auguste Rodin in Philadelphia. The teacher of a night class in sculpture at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts recognized Nowlan's talent and pushed him to go to art school.

He arrived in Manhattan a guy with decidedly working-class tastes, knowing less about art than about sports. "I grew up with regular, everyday working people," Nowlan said in 1999. "I was overwhelmed in Manhattan. I didn't know anybody. I thought, 'Oh man, what am I doing here?' "

His affable nature and fierce work-ethic served him well. He earned the Saint-Gaudens residency after his first year in art school. He was in residence at the park for five summers.

"He got more than the average person would get out of being here because he really saw this place as a school," Duffy said. "It was really from Saint-Gaudens that he began to learn low-relief portraiture."

His regular-guy persona and love of sports gave Nowlan a particularly deft touch in depicting the human form, Duffy said. "You see a common touch in his art," he said.

Posted by at August 2, 2013 5:26 AM

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