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Posted: 07/24/13

RENDERED IN ROMEO. Above, Romeo resident Bowen Kline displays some of his latest paintings that will be featured alongside works by Detroit artist Tony Roko at the "ELS 4 GATS: Out With the New, In With the Old" show. The exhibit will open on Aug. 22 at the Janice Charach Gallery in West Bloomfield, and showcase works by Kline, Roko and pieces created by both artists.

(Observer photo by Chris Gray)

Romeo artist featured
in upcoming collaboration

Observer Staff Writer

      Bowen Kline believes art is about discovery, and that sense of discovering new things has led to him displaying his artwork with an internationally renowned artist.
       Kline is teaming up with Detroit artist Tony Roko to present "ELS 4 GATS: Out With the New, In With the Old" to showcase art created from a year-long collaboration.
       The exhibit will open at 7 p.m. on Aug. 22 at the Janice Charach Gallery in West Bloomfield and will run until mid-October.
       Kline, a Southfield native who now lives in Romeo, has been a professional artist for roughly 20 years, finding success with his self-taught style by selling works to private collectors around the nation.
       "I vary from realism to abstract expressionism to collage to construction paintings," he said. "When you group them all together you can see it's done by the same person, but it's a different style all over."
       Kline said Roko, another self-taught artist, reached out to him after buying one of his works four years ago. After a couple years of searching for Kline, the two artists finally met and decided to do a joint venture.
       "We got hooked up in this way with the collaboration strictly because he believed in his heart that the people around this state and around the world and country need to know who Bowen Kline is," Kline said. "I'm eternally grateful to him for that."
       Kline said the show's artwork is literally a collaboration between the two artists, where they paint on the same canvas at the same time. He said working together created a "third artist" since their combined works don't resemble their own styles.
       "We're learning from each other, trying to keep up with the other, and it kind of really helps you push yourself into different directions," he said. "Instead of talking you actually get to experience it."
       Each artist will showcase their own works as well. Though he usually likes creating portraits, Kline has painted works that center around competition for the exhibit. He said the theme emerged from working with other artists.
       "It's almost symbolic of the collaboration itself because we have to put our egos aside but there's still that struggle to compete with one another," he said. "I didn't realize what I was doing until I completed about 20 of them."
       Kline said he has always been involved in art, originally attending college to become a doctor but decided to pursue art instead. He contributes his style to experimentation, saying he uses different materials and paint compositions to achieve desired effects.
       "Sometimes you can hit the nail right on the head and the fighting of the two chemicals actually creates something beautiful on the canvas," he said. "Other times it just burns a hole right through it."
       The upcoming show's name, ELS 4 GATS, is derived from the pub-restaurant Els Quatre Gats where Pablo Picasso was said to hold his first painting expo. Kline said this captures the idea of people coming together to discuss art.
       The collaborative effort caught the attention of the Anti-Defamation League, which is commemorating its centennial anniversary of civil rights work by showing a series called "World Without Hate."
Romeo influences

       It was Kline's sense of discovery and meeting his future wife, Sarah, that led him to moving to Romeo. He moved to Washington Township with Sarah before they married in October 2012 and relocated to a historic home on Hollister Street.
       "It was always kind of a dream for us," he said. "I love this area, she loves it, it's a great place to be and a wonderful town."
       Being in Romeo directly affected the upcoming show. He said he met Romeo resident Jess Hall after checking out her store, Reology, in downtown Romeo and decided to ask her to contribute.
       Hall, also a self-taught artist, is using everything from scraps of metal and old floor moldings to window frames to construct unique frames for the show's pieces.
       "For as long as I can remember I've been using materials to make other materials," she said. "I'm so thankful I learned how to be hands on when I was a kid."
       Hall said she is excited to have her work shown in a gallery alongside Kline and Roko, adding it will be "surreal."
       "I think that moment when we all walk in and it's all set up and ready to go is going to be one of the coolest experiences ever," she said.
       Kline said he hopes to engage the community more as an artist now that he lives in Romeo.
       "I love this town, it's just so nice," he said.

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