Tony Dow: ‘Wally’ weighs in on his sculpture at the Louvre

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Sorry, Eric.

That would be the ‘Eric’ who filed the first comment on our Culture Monster post this week about ‘Leave It to Beaver’ actor Tony Dow, now an artist who will be having one of his sculptures displayed at the Louvre in Paris. Eric pointed out that Dow’s bronze sculpture would not be joining the famed museum’s collection but rather would be included in an annual show held at the Carrousel du Louvre, an exhibition hall within the museum. ‘Sorry, Wally, but you are not up there with Leonardo quite yet,’ Eric wrote.

Subsequent commenters immediately piled on Eric, charging him with ‘negativity.’ Well, lighten up. The vigilant Eric filed his comment before Culture Monster had reported the location of the temporary exhibition that would show Dow’s sculpture, ‘Unarmed Warrior.’ Eric was just raising the red flag not to believe those early headlines. Now, can we all just get along?


In fact, the good-natured Dow would be the first to say that reportage of his artwork’s appearance in the Louvre got way out of hand. ‘It had a life of its own; next thing you know, people think it’s going to be next to the Mona Lisa,’ he said in a recent conversation, joking that he’d had an easier time getting shown at the Carrousel du Louvre than getting his stuff in the annual Topanga Days arts festival. ‘I think it’s a more European kind of art than it is American,’ Dow says.

In a recent conversation, Dow told us how his career in art has been forged in fire -- literally.

Dow first started as a painter in the late 1960s and had a local exhibition of his work. But after he took the paintings home after the show, ‘I proceeded to set the house on fire cooking dinner, and the paintings went up in smoke. That sort of stopped my painting career.’

Dow continued to offer his work at local art fairs through the years but decided in 2002 to pursue sculpting in earnest as his Hollywood career began winding down. And now, fire plays a more positive role in his work: Many of his sculpture shapes are inspired by wood that has been damaged by the flames that have swept through the area near his home in the Santa Monica Mountains.

‘There’s a lot of remnants of wood things, trees and whatnot; I tend to find burly kinds of pieces, roots and things, and bring them home,’ he says. Dow creates a form from sculpting the wood, creates a rubber mold and then casts the piece in metal. He also keeps the version in wood: ‘Some of the prettiest pieces seem to come from burned wood,’ he says. ‘There’s a little bit of that blackness left in -- it has a warmth to it.’

Of ‘Unarmed Warrior’ (right), the artist says: ‘I always think of it as a female figure, but it could be a male or female figure. It represents the struggle against ... uh ... stuff. There happens to be kind of a gash across the front of it, which might have a little sort of breast cancer thing to it, and the shield is the way of protecting it.’ But, Dow says, the form remains open to interpretation.

-- Diane Haithman

Here are a few more of Dow’s bronze sculptures:

Photo group: Top: ‘The Struggle.’ Bottom left: ‘Inside Out.’ Bottom right: ‘Le Cirque.’ All courtesy of Karen Lynne Gallery.