Country Pleasures: The Angling Art of Jack Cowin
Patricia Vervoort is an assistant professor of art history at Lakehead
Jack Cowin, a professor of printmaking at the University of Regina, is the subject of this short study by Andrew Oko, Curator of the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Works (drawings, lithographs, etchings, and water-colours) involved with the imagery of trout are illustrated. Biographical information includes the artist’s training (MFA, University of Illinois) and experience (staff medical illustrator for the Indiana School of Medicine), but emphasizes his favourite trout streams, lures, and first-hand experience with his subject. Often using a catch-and-release technique, Cowin is a conservationist. A number of the footnoted quotes relate to fishing rather than art. Emphasizing the artist’s knowledge of his subject, this study should appeal to both artist and angler.
An interest in nineteenth century naturalist painters inspires Cowin’s concern for accuracy in portraying various species of trout. Essentially a realist, Cowin adds “disclaimers” or gestural splotches to emphasize his hand in works such as “Night Watch.”
Some of the photographs record the artist producing an etching; others indicate the process of lithography. More photos show trout streams, trout, and the artist with a brown trout (p.24). The reader, however, encounters some difficulty in relating the text to the proper illustration. For example, “Country Pleasures” is discussed on page 45, but one must turn to page 52 (the list of colour plates) to find that it is illustrated on page 23. None of the colour plates is identified, not even by number. The list of plates does indicate technique, but no measurements or dates are included. Some dating information occurs in the text. Black-and-white drawings are titled. This format, which requires much page-turning, detracts from an unusual and perceptive study.