Howdle's sculptures to be featured in local exhibitions

November 3, 2014
Catfish and tires
Raccoons under shed
Ducks fish and farm truck

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — A collection of nine ceramic sculptures and one vase created by Bruce Howdle, senior lecturer of art at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and owner of Howdle Studios Inc., in Mineral Point, Wis., will be on display at the “Wild Things in the Human Habitat” exhibition at the Sugar River Gallery, Verona Area High School, Verona, Wis., through Friday, Nov. 21. There will be a closing reception on Nov. 21 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Following the show in Verona, eight of Howdle’s relief murals and several other works will be on display at the “Nature Within Human Habitat” exhibition at the Frehner Gallery, Monroe Arts Center, Monroe, Wis., from Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 through Friday, Jan. 30, 2015. There will be an opening reception on Dec. 5 from 5-7 p.m., with an Artist Gallery Talk at 5:30 p.m. The exhibit and opening reception are free and open to the public.

Howdle created the series of ceramic murals to reflect the world that humans have made and the consequences it has for all life. This is the first opportunity for these pieces to be seen as a collective. Previously, they had been exhibited with other artists’ works in five separate exhibits located throughout the state in March, under the sanction of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts conference, which was based in Milwaukee, Wis. The works reflected his vision of NCECA’s theme, “Perceptions of the Material World.”

“In the decades I have been working in clay, I have often thought about the days when, as a boy, I saw the rusted remnants of old cars, barbed wire and old machinery thrown in gullies to help slow erosion from farm fields,” said Howdle. “As young adults, we knew these dump sites as places where wild animals used our refuse for shelter and as a hunting ground. I was aware, even then, of the contrast between nature and the rusted remnants of human activity. I have created many works over the years, drawn from nature, and have thought about this contrast as a theme that I might develop for an exhibit.”

Howdle said the design of the modern material world is increasingly a sleek technical /industrial look and shapes, colors and textures that don’t exist in nature dominate the modern urban world. “New, man-made materials are almost indestructible and persist in the ecosystem beyond the foreseeable future and I wanted to examine how the older natural world lives from day to day with the products of human industry especially after we throw it away,” he said.

“I wanted to look at the modern material world from the non-human perspective, so I decided to build the exhibit around small-scale ceramic relief murals,” Howdle added. “Each mural includes wild creatures and human garbage or a human landscape – for example, cranes flying over a junk car and Peregrin falcons nesting in the city.”

The pieces that will be on exhibit in Verona include: “Red Tailed Hawk and Tractor,” “Bass and Outboard Motor,” “Catfish,” “Turtles and Sunfish,” “Timber Wolves,” “Raccoons Under Shed,” “Peregrine Falcons Nesting in the City,” “‘47 Chevy and Sandhill Cranes” and “Ducks and Farm Truck.”

These and other pieces will be selected to be in the eight-piece exhibit at the Monroe Art Center.

All pieces at both exhibits will be available for purchase.

Howdle said that having his artwork in the exhibitions ties into his teaching. “It is important for me to lead by example,” Howdle said. “Having my work on display shows my students what they need to do post-college to make a living in the art world. It is good for them to see that I am productive in creating artwork and teaching. If they aspire to be a part of the art world, this is something they will need to consider.”

Howdle has been a ceramic sculptor in Mineral Point since 1976. In the past 38 years, he has produced and installed major works of freestanding or wall-mounted sculpture in both indoor and outdoor settings in several states.

To view Howdle’s collection, go to and

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191,


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