Topic: New Owen Dippie Show

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Artist Owen Dippie has been busily preparing for his new art show. If you haven't visited Owen's Ashworth Lane gallery in Mount Maunganui before his first show in 2013 is an ideal opportunity for you to see his studio and some exciting new works for the first time.

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Owen, or ‘OD’ as he is known, is making a huge impact on the art scene in his hometown Mount Maunganui –Tauranga, and his reputation has spread nationally and internationally.

Owen combines his unique talent and integrity to create art that traverses and explores genres, styles and time. Consequently, his work is admired and appreciated by young and old alike.

Earning a living from what he loves best requires a blend of early personal maturity, natural ability, a depth of knowledge about art and art history and street smarts. OD is dedicated to being the best he can be. Sometimes this means taking risks, and Owen takes advantage of every available opportunity to create his works.

'Justice League' in Mt. Maunganui 2012. Photo by Kost TMD 

The future looks bright with the establishment of OD’s own Mt Maunganui studio gallery in 2011.

Born in Kawerau, 28 years ago, Owen’s earliest recollection of artistic inspiration was at Kawerau Primary School when artist Edward Hunia was commissioned to paint a large mural on a school wall. For Owen classroom lessons became secondary. His maths and language exercise books were already filled with drawings and designs and so, with his teacher’s tacit support, he spent hours watching the mural take shape. 

Hunia became a mentor and with the encouragement of OD’s parents the seeds for Owen's future germinated.   

Art took over Owen’s life, and other curriculum areas associated with conventional schooling at secondary school fell by the wayside.

Like most young people Owen wrestled with aspects of growing up and finding his place during his teenage years. He learnt from mistakes that he made along the way and the desire to be an artist often offered direction during these times.  

In his late teens he enrolled in Whitecliffe College of Art and Design in Auckland. He enjoyed some parts of the curriculum and has fond memories of the place but once again the restlessness and need to express himself artistically in his own way saw him leaving the school 18 months into a possible 4 year BFA course. 

During this time Owen made a living from odd jobs and selling paintings while totally immersed in street art and the street art scene.

Owen was particularly inspired by the work of famous, now deceased, New York artists, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. He also became interested in the art and ideas surrounding the prolific work of 'paste - up artist', Shepard Fairey.

In a Nike 'just do it' moment in 2006 Owen decided on a short two week visit to New York to see and experience the East Coast Hip-Hop and Street art scene at its source. In the first week Owen found a space on an art covered wall in Queens and added his own art - a portrait of Biggie Smalls. The quality of the piece drew the attention of renowned street artists Meres and Cope2 which lead to further meetings with those in the New York Hip-Hop community and an acceptance of his abilities. 

Back in New Zealand Owen continued to paint. In 2009 his stunning salute to scary movie characters 'Halloween!' appeared on a wall at Te Maunga Junction beside State Highway 2 between Mount Maunganui and Papamoa.

Tauranga began to notice Owen's street art presence when his first 'Respect for The Dead' portraits were commissioned. Two highly visible grisaille works depicting Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson adorn a wall of a building on Tauranga's 15th Avenue.  

These were the first of a heartfelt series. The accomplished portraits marked the beginning of Owen's public 'Respect for the Dead' works. Even larger portraits can be seen at a number of locations around Mount Maunganui and Tauranga.

Johnny and Albert - Ashworth Lane Mount Maunganui

In 2010 Owen returned to New York for five weeks to make art. His work can be seen across the five boroughs of New York city and the Lower East Side. His growing reputation lead to an invitation to exhibit in a group show with high profile artists Artefacts, Mister Cartoon and his early inspiration Shephard Fairey at the TT Gallery in Manhatten. The exhibition opening was a huge success with queues stretching down the sidewalk outside the gallery for much of the night.

Owen exhibited large paintings on canvas depicting his art heroes Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. He also painted a collaboration piece with Cope2.

On the 10th of September 2011 Owen opened his Ashworth Lane Studio and Gallery to the public for the first time.  

I visited his Ashworth Lane studio/gallery prior to the opening and was reminded of how well Owen can paint with a brush as well as his nationally and internationally known spray can work. 

In his studio was a large brush painting in progress. The scene depicts his Grandfather seated on a beer crate opening pipis. The work is extremely well executed with a measured , confident palette of grey greens reminiscent of past French masters Corot and Manet. In its nearly completed state, this very personal painting captures a slice of Kiwi life that many of us know so well. The work was accepted for the prestigious Molly Morpeth Canady exhibition, 2012.

The Ashworth Lane gallery is to the right of the building entrance. It’s a very well-appointed conventional gallery space with white walls. The attention to detail in this space is a real credit to Owen, his family and those involved in the project.

To the left of the gallery is Owen’s cavernous studio space. The walls are festooned with street art by Owen and other leading New Zealand exponents of the genre. I noticed nods to Frida Kahlo, and New York artists' Keith Haring and Basquiat. C.F.Goldie, a major favourite of Owens also features and Owen's C.F.Goldie paintings have to be seen to be believed.

"I'd love to do a 'Goldie' on a wall in New York sometime in the future - and paint it huge ", says Owen. 

The opening night was a great success with large numbers from Tauranga and visitors from all over the country attending. Owen's work and that of a small number of invited artists was enthusiastically received.

Art Year 2012 in Tauranga launched spectacularly with a follow-up Group Exhibiton called 'OD and Friends' at his gallery in January. 

Exhibiting artists included internationally recognised Phat.1. plus other members of Auckland's TMD Crew and highly talented locals Ras.1. and Mr. G.

Also included were Componant, an innovative stencil artist, Random Guy who creates 3D artworks in polystyrene, air-brush maestro Paul Julian, artist carver Hipara August and others.

'The Chinese Girl' painted in Auckland with Hipara August. 2012. Photo by Kost TMD

The show drew numbers unheard of for a private exhibition opening in Tauranga.  Enthusiastic art followers arrived from all around the country. The following day Owen and the artists invited the public to see street art being created on the exterior walls surrounding his gallery in Ashworth Lane alongside the huge completed portraits of Biggie Smalls, Lady Diana and Albert Einstein in Owen’s 'Respect For the Dead' series.

Owen's spray can work is remarkable not only for the courage to undertake what he does so publicly, but for the scale of the images. The 'Respect For The Dead' portraits on Ashworth Lane are 10 metres high. One would expect that Owen uses some of the artists box of tricks like 'gridding up' or projection. But, amazingly, the scale and dimensions are somehow carried in the artist's being, ready for exact free-hand execution. 

Owen is constantly on the go with ideas and plans. Ashworth Lane will eventually become a long gallery of 'Respect for the Dead' portraits with Johnny Cash to be added next.

Currently, Owen is working on numerous private commissions as well as a new series of highly detailed brush portraits on large canvases featuring the art of ta moko.

In April 2012 Owen completed a major work with the backing of the Creative Tauranga Charitable Trust. It is a homage to C.F. Goldie's 1902 portrait of Ngapuhi elder Ina Te Papatahi. Painted in a great location opposite Tauranga's Public Art Gallery it is one step closer to the goal of creating a highly visible Goldie in New York.. 

As well as making a success of his new gallery, Owen would like to travel to Europe to see and explore 'renaissance art on the street' possibilities, and to eventually return to New York to do more street art. 

If you are in Mt Maunganui be sure to visit Owen's studio/ gallery on Ashworth Lane .To find out more about Owen's work visit 

Owen's new art show 'Nothing Over 100 Dollars' will open 6.00pm on Saturday, February 9th at his gallery. Bring a friend. Everyone is welcome.

by Pete Morris (January, 2013).

Pete Morris is an occasional painter and an art lover. He is a free-lance writer with a particular interest in promoting the visual arts in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty.


This page archived at Perma CC in November of 2016:

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New Owen Dippie Show