Guns as Art as Tools for Thought



Visitors of ‘Undone,’ The Mercurial Gallery’s new exhibition, will likely first notice the flattened AK-47 on the gallery’s back wall, a piece that Josh Rowley took to with a sledgehammer, controlled compression, and bismuth, an iridescent metal that forms spiraling, geometric crystals. The disfigured, inoperable rifle appears as though its solid ingredients have melted and resonated from the inside out, that the gun is slowly oxidizing, becoming “undone.”


“Some of the artwork here involves what were personal possessions, toys, replicas and weapons,” explains Rowley. “They were destroyed, donated, and recreated. With regard to the trajectory of our lives and the time we share, these are not just objects and images; they are tools for thought. Art is a tool for thought.”


‘Undone,’ a solo exhibition by Milford, Connecticut artist Josh Rowley, opens for regular hours at The Mercurial Gallery in downtown Danbury on Saturday, August 31. A reception will be held at the gallery on Saturday, September 7 from 5 to 7pm, and an artist talk with Rowley will be held on Thursday, September 26 from 6 to 8pm. ‘Undone’ will be on display through October 11. Some Things Fishy Catering of Bethel, Connecticut is kindly sponsoring the ‘Undone’ opening reception.


Rowley is an internationally collected and exhibited artist whose work can be seen at the Dubi Shiff collection in Tel Aviv, Israel. He was born in Stockton, California in 1973, and has been professionally active in painting and sculpture since receiving his MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia and his BFA from the University of Wisconsin Stout. Rowley is also an accomplished teacher and has taught a range of disciplines, including graduate level classes at Yale University.


"Cowboys" by Josh Rowley. Cap guns on MDF.

“Cowboys” by Josh Rowley. Cap guns on MDF.

Rowley’s work focuses on the human condition as well as socio-critical themes. He is interested in depicting qualities of time––time passing quickly, a moment, or thin slices of time. Some of his paintings depict street scenes from his stepfather’s volunteer medical work in 1970s Afghanistan, and much of his work focuses on the role of violence, in both a global and private sense.


“I am personally familiar with tragedy due to firearms and violence,” Rowley says. “I have lost loved ones. I am from and have lived in many of the highest per capita crime and violent areas of this country. Parents of school children in my hometown empathize with those parents nearby that sustained recent loss.”


While the objects and themes within Rowley’s work may be controversial, his goal is to use content and materials as a way to discuss how we deal with social issues rather than to provide an answer to the issues themselves. As an artist and observer, he is continually circling back to concepts of hope and community and aiming to balance criticism with empathy.


“Currently, socio-political debate and conversation seems fueled by continuance of discord more than the desire for resolution and understanding,” Rowley continues. “My content of socio-critical themes, and my own thoughts regarding the beauty and tragedy of life, are hopeful ideas. I am picturing less fear, less greed––a more thoughtful use of power. My artwork depicts what I cannot tangibly see, but what I sense about our time.”




‘Undone’ opens at The Mercurial Gallery for regular hours on Saturday, August 31, 2013, and an opening reception will be held on Saturday, September 7 from 5 to 7pm. An artist talk with Josh Rowley will be held on Thursday, September 26 from 6 to 8pm. ‘Undone’ will be on display through October 11. Some Things Fishy Catering of Bethel, Connecticut is kindly sponsoring the ‘Undone’ opening reception.


The Mercurial Gallery is located at 11 Library Place in Danbury, Connecticut. Regular gallery hours are Thursday from 4pm to 8pm and Friday through Sunday 12 to 5pm.


Parking is available directly across the street from the gallery in the Charles A. Bardo Parking Garage. Main Street parking is free on Sundays and after 5:30pm.


For more information, call The Mercurial at (203)744-9179, email, or visit Visit Josh Rowley’s website at

by & filed under Arts & Music, Previews & Reviews, Top Stories.