Lowell Thompson (b. 1947)
Lowell Thompson was born in Chicago and attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In June 1968, after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—when corporate America opened up to “unwhites”—he became one of the first and few African Americans creating ads and commercials for many leading top advertising agencies. In 2005, he was resident artist at the City of Chicago’s Open Studio. He has exhibited at the South Side Community Art Center, the Chicago Tourism Center and on the Chicago Riverwalk. He is featured in African Art: The Diaspora and Beyond by Daniel T. Parker. Thompson is also a writer whose work has appeared in Chicago Life, Chicago Reader, Huffington Post, Nation of Change and the New York Times online.
I started painting seriously in 2000, with an idea to capture the sights and sites of Chicago they never show in tourist guides, using a video camera as my sketch pad. I try to literally capture “the telling moment” in a way technically impossible before the invention of the video camera. My “Chicago Fer Real” series was the result. I usually work in acrylic on canvas that I’ve covered with textured gesso—a technique that I think helps people feel my work as well as see it. I see my art as visual journalism/commentary, noting the seemingly ordinary people and places of the city. As a contemporary African American/Chicagoan mash-up, I place my work between genre painters like Edgar Degas, George Bellows and Edward Hopper, and photojournalists like Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Gordon Parks, Harry Callahan and now Vivian Maier.