Then and now: Florence Library to host reflective Patz and Mike Fowle exhibit
Article and photos by Deborah Swearingen
FLORENCE, S.C. – One of the first questions that Patz Fowle asked her husband, Mike, was: What do you think about art?
“He said, ‘what do you mean,’” Patz said, smiling. “I knew that I was on a mission.”
Since that day, decades ago, the couple has been creating art together.
In a two-month exhibit opening Jan. 10 at the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation Library’s Morris Gallery, they will explore their artistic journey.
The exhibit, called “Then and Now,” features approximately 30 pieces of the artists’ work. It encompasses art made by the Fowles in the late 70s through pieces created by the dynamic duo last month.
“We might even have one that we’re still working on,” Mike said. “It’s going to be that type of a show.”
Though much of their work is thematically the same, Patz said, it will be interesting to witness the growth.
“It’s nice to show the transformation and the evolution of the work, even though they are still flavored with the things that we started with,” Patz said. “We love a lot of the same things.”
Their commonalities first brought the pair together, Patz said. 43 years later, and the couple is still going strong.
Patz calls her style detailed, while Mike’s is simple. But they complement each other well, and the two artists are open-minded and appreciative of the other’s creations.
“Patz is my detail,” Mike said.
Artistically, Patz said, she enjoys giving creatures human-like qualities.
“I kind of look at the world through an animal’s eyes and imagine what it would be like to be human – the good, the bad and the funky,” she said. “I’m just expressing what I think and how I feel through the work.”
As far as mediums go, the Fowles try it all – they’re sculptors, painters, welders and more.
The couple won the People’s Choice award in the 2015 ArtFields competition. They are also the artists responsible for the “Big Bleu Birdnanna,” a 23-foot, metal sculpture in downtown Florence.
The Fowles serve as teaching artists through the South Carolina Arts Commission, which has allowed them to teach and share their art all over the world.
Patz is the visual arts coordinator for the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics. There, she works to incorporate art into science and math. Recently, for example, she helped her students create art through the process of computer coding.
The couple said they could never have expected or predicted to be where they are today, but they have always been dreamers.
“You expect greatness, but you don’t know in what form,” Patz said. “So we’re open. Eyes open and minds open and an open heart for good things to happen.”
There will be an opening reception for “Then and Now,” when it opens on Sunday, Jan. 10. The reception begins at 3 p.m. and will last for an hour. The artists invite the public to come join in the conversation about their artwork.
Admission is free, and light refreshments will be served.