Joe Howe

Joe Howe (1930-2019) began working at then “Gateway Crafts” in the early 1970’s, spending several years exploring weaving, pottery, and art making.  After exploring other occupational opportunities, Howe returned to Gateway Arts in 1996 until his retirement in 2019.

Howe’s work was characterized by repetition, refinement, and frequently a striking grasp of composition. Howe spoke little but worked with unwavering dedication. Those who got to know Howe learned of his desire to fly on long trips, to go “far far.” Sometimes, Howe’s friends would make him cards and drawings, laminating them with packing tape for him to carry in his wallet. These would say and depict whatever Joe asked for – pictures of airplanes, the words “1,000 miles”, lists of jobs and activities he enjoyed (“Lock up. Sleep over. Peel potatoes.”). The topic of travel figured into his work, though it is not immediately apparent. Sculptures that appear abstract may in fact depict airplanes or windows. Other pieces represent sofas or chairs, while still others remain inscrutable. The totality of Joe’s inner life remains mysterious, but like all good artists, he hinted at the possibilities with his work.

In Massachusetts Howe’s work has been exhibited at The Gateway Gallery, Drive-by Projects, Plymouth Center for the Arts, Arsenal Center for the Arts, Berenberg Gallery, The Mall at Chestnut Hill and Copley Place Mall; The Brookline Public Library; and Lincoln Gallery. In New York, his work has been shown at Pier 60, the Outsider Art Fair and White Columns. His work is in the collection of the Museum of Everything in London, England.

Howe’s solo exhibition at White Columns in New York City was featured in the prominent art publication, HyperallergicRead the Article

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Art like this is a reminder that it itself is a kind of language with its own logic, its own building blocks and grammar. It’s tempting to play the archaeologist and puzzle over the precise meaning of a Joe Howe object as if these works were from some long lost civilization that vanished without a trace of or any indication of who their maker was. - Chris Cobb, Hyperallergic, December 16, 2016