Whitehot Magazine

Art Lovers New York: Trippin’ Down Memory Lane with Nate Lowman

Nate Lowman and Mary-Kate Olsen, attend a Chelsea, NYC opening, Nov 8, 2008. All photos courtesy & copyright Nancy Smith / artloversnewyork.com

I selected a few previous articles from the important art blog Art Lovers New York. Here in a new article series for Whitehot, ALNY publisher Nancy Smith recounts some of her previous adventures... - Noah Becker

By NANCY SMITH, July 2023

Episode 1: Tombstone Nate

I’d been taking photos of him well before he became mainstream, so I loved that expression. We were both laughing at the cute glam romance that would suddenly put his face on every tabloid cover you could imagine, but I had caught them early on, and he wasn’t quite sure if it was public knowledge, or even if she was ok with it. For a brief moment, the business-driven art world felt very fun. A definite  ‘Rolling Stone’  meets  ‘Almost Famous’  high point.                                                  

The low-fi newsprint ‘gallery invite’ for: NATE LOWMAN, “A Dog From Every County”, (image above) one of my very fav shows of  his, and just in general - even after all these years.  Presented by Maccarone Gallery when it was located in a huge storefront space at 630 Greenwich St., in downtown NYC, it ran Feb 20 - April 2009. The 2-faced image encapsulated the theme: the fading glory of the old cowboy frontier, and the opening up of the new, bright and shiny digital future. I couldn’t make the opening, but my red scribbling records that I got there Sat March 21 - which was great: the cavernous space was totally empty, and I could really get into the work. Nate always has great titles for both his exhibits, and the individual works. There’s always an underlying social commentary - I kid you not.       

NATE LOWMAN, ‘Loser’, 2009. Alkyd on canvas, 40 x 30 inches.

This was the piece that really broke the code for me: Old cowboy, drink up your last cup of coffee around the campfire,  only your faded tombstones will mark the spot. These tombstone canvases were hand-painted to look like blown-up, old newspaper pages, presenting visually  the character of old-timey letter-set, print communication. Alkyd, a form of industrial paint seems to be ideally suited to be diluted, and here appears to be a realistic nod to the days of black ink drips, and stains, as the hand press moves over each sheet.  I clearly remember at first glance I had thought they were silkscreens.

NATE LOWMAN, ‘Thank you for’. A red painted, large shaped-canvas that presents as a wall sculpture. Like I said, his titles are just as drop dead smart as his paintings. Well, here’s to your new, shiny !! nothing personal, unless androgynous global is  - your new kind of personal. No drips, no stains, a generic signifier digital  . . ’pioneer’. The new digital  emotive ‘swagger’.

NATE LOWMAN, ‘ I shit you not’, 2009. neon sign, plastic box / 84 x 53 inches.

I think he’s saying: we live within a foot still of the cowboy frontier, and on the other foot we are entering a world that looks glossy and minimal, but watch out . . .  there’s blood and guts under them there . .  social media.


Nancy Smith


Nancy Smith is an artist, and the publisher of artloversnewyork.com


Portrait by Taylor McKimens



view all articles from this author