In 1988 Ron Cowan was driving east on route 3. When the road crested he saw the bay in the distance. He continued to drive until he arrived in Belfast Harbor. Ron has graced Belfast ever since, not only personally, but with his arresting wooden sculptures. Using chainsaw, chisel and grinder, Ron has made a name for himself sculpting faces in old barn beams, stumps, and logs.
His route to Belfast was circuitous. Being born in Connecticut, spending a few early years in New Brunswick, Canada, attending public school in Newport, Maine, a stint in the US Army, attending the University of New Haven, Connecticut, was just the beginning. Ron owned several restaurants in Florida for a period of time. After that he and his wife Cherie moved to Vermont, followed by a stint back in Connecticut before discovering Belfast. His introduction to sculpting came while on the farm in Vermont. That’s where he carved his first life-sized face. And, he hasn’t stopped creating since.
For a number of years, folks entering Belfast on High Street were greeted by a tree with a carved face in the trunk. This represented the late Sergio Gazatua, and had been carved, by Ron, at the request of Rosemary, Sergio’s wife. Today, anyone visiting the harbor in Belfast can enjoy watching Ron’s faces, adorned with sea weed hair, emerge and disappear with the tides. This work is aptly called the “Long Breath”. And there are usually several other Ron Cowan sculptures placed around town.
Ron and Cherie live just outside downtown Belfast on a property dotted with several buildings; one their home, one Ron’s workshop, another the home of his son Ben who raises alpacas. Several faces that Ron calls “The Greeters” welcome visitors to the Cowan homestead. Ryan lives in Hampden with his wife and two children. He work at the University of Maine and he and his wife also have an all natural ice cream business, Wild Cow Creamery serving the Bangor area. Ron’s passion for sculpting has passed on to Ryan who also sculpts the iconic heads. Ron agrees that Ryan’s work, in general, presents a softer feeling than Ron’s usually rather austere creations. Ron, with a grin, claims that Ryan is his, “biggest competitor in the sculpting business“.
At present Ron is teaching art at Troy Howard Middle School while waiting for his workshop to emerge from this winter’s larger than usual snowfall. In the meantime he’s making plans and designs for another season of sculpting as soon as the, “First Warm winds of spring arrive”.
We look forward to welcoming Ron Cowan, selected Artist of the Year, back to Arts in the Park on July 11 and 12 for another year of exciting art, music and food.