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From photography to painting, Craig Smith Dow has found his passion

Five words: Art, heart, fact, fraction and fracture. They would appear to have different definitions, unless you’re artist Craig Smith Dow, who fused the terms to form Artifracture, the exhibition that went on display at the Charlotte Glencross Gallery on Friday night.

The theme of Dow’s series isn’t necessarily congruent, but that’s okay with him — it’s part of the exhibition. A background in commercial photography left Dow skilled in contrast, perspective and the compositional aspects of a professional photographer. Each painting incorporates these aspects, but remains abstract in its own right.

“I’m past the stage of having to figure out what goes with what — that’s all natural now.”

Each painting has its own story to tell. Dow attributes this to his past use of real film over the now digital and photoshopped realm of photography. It’s why so much is encompassed in each piece of work in Artifracture — one painting can both stand on its own or in a group.

“With photography, the final photo is the final photo so you have to put everything into that. Every painting is like a series in itself. When I was putting this together, I was really trying to get across and trying to show the different styles that I have while keeping it uniform.”

The Artifracture installation is Dow’s first official solo show made up of about 15 years worth of work and is a depiction of his separation from the more regimented and recognizable elements inherent in professional photography.

“Everything is a fractured display in terms of a series … It’s all emotional. There’s truthfulness in this, in the paintings. Everything up there … that’s where the heart and the art combine.”

The exhibit also marked Kate Rogers’ first week as the executive director of the Charlotte Glencross Gallery. She was part of the group that launched the Charlotte Street Arts Centre and has been in and around the scene from the beginning.

“I have always loved the potential of a community arts centre. It plays a very valuable role in the city, especially a city of our size where there’s a great demand for arts programming — so then you get people from the community [like Craig Smith Dow] doing it, and it happens right here,” explained Rogers. “It’s interesting for us as ‘back room’ people to see what you do to generate and promote movement throughout the building.”

As for Dow, he hopes to continue his artwork and make it a full-time gig. He’s grateful that photography taught him as much as it did, giving him an angle to his artwork that allows for a conceptual approach to subjects like emotion that are usually hard to depict.

“I’m seriously looking at pursuing this as a career, in other words throwing the life vest away and really making a go of it,” he said. “I’m putting myself out there emotionally.”

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