Russell Bowman's resume is one worth dissecting. With 25 years of museum administration and curatorial experience, he served as Director of the Milwaukee Art Museum from 1985 to 2002, during which time the lauded (The Best Design of 2001, said Time Magazine) museum addition by Santiago Calatrava was completed.
Specializing in modern, contemporary and self-taught art, Bowman says he doesn't represent artists; he represents works of art, serious, "museum quality" pieces. In addition to representing pieces by notable names like Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe and Jackson Pollock, he also represents artwork by lesser-known, self-taught artists whose work he deems museum-worthy. He also creates shows that wouldn't otherwise be done in Chicago, such as the early work or "formative years" of artists which haven't been displayed before (a showing of the early work of Roger Brown, Ed Paschke, Jim Nutt and Karl Wirsum is a notable example).
Bowman calls his venue an advisory rather than a gallery to illustrate that his is a business of advising and consulting with art collectors to help them find the same lasting quality of art he prefers; he prefers to play a more public and educational role as opposed to simply being a dealer or gallery owner. In addition to collection planning and acquisition, the advisory provides services in appraisals, framing and installation, exhibition development, and sales and donations to institutions.
Bowman's small space is not easily recognizable, but it offers much to the curious art aficionado. The one-floor showroom has a cozy loft feel without actually being a loft, and the crisp white walls add depth and space to the miniature museum, contrasting the artwork's vibrant colors. In the center of the room is a lounge area with comfortable chairs and a coffee table strewn with art books and information about the Advisory. The place may be small, but one could easily spend hours poring over the pieces, engaged in thoughtful discussion.
Novices take heart: Bowman often shows pieces that can be seen in popular museums, so there's bound to be something familiar on display. For example, Bowman's upcoming exhibit, "Drawings: 1945 to Now," includes pieces by Pollock, Warhol, Elizabeth Murray and Carol Walker. Be sure to check out the Advisory's Web site for future exhibits and events.
Centerstage Reviewer: Amy Wilschke