Copper in the Arts

February 2021

Studio G7: A Lineage of Copper

By Jesse Avalon

Greg Gowen, founder of Albuquerque based Studio G7, has a lifetime of experience in the arts. Looking at his studio’s output, it is easy to see that experience in action.

Founded near the turn of the century, Studio G7 has made a name for itself both locally in New Mexico and nationwide. Their copperwork has a unique quality to it, playing off the malleability and color of the metal to great effect. This uniqueness has helped the studio stand out over the years.

Gowen’s exposure to the world of art started early. Growing up in West Texas, his mother was a painter and his father a metal sculptor. It was through them that he got his start. “I worked in the studio,” he says. “Either with my mom, framing and matting things, or with my dad, welding and building for his works.”

Greg1.jpgNative American Headdress
Photograph courtesy of Greg Gowen. 

It was not until 1987, however, that he decided to make art his career. “I abandoned college and went straight to this,” he explains. He had learned to work with copper while helping in his father’s studio. “Before I got into steel and stainless aluminum and all that, my dad got me into copper.”

That early experience with copper proved helpful as Gowen began to turn his passion into his work. “It’s very easy to form,” he says, thinking back to his early experiences with copper. “But it’s hard to maintain the colors you want while you’re welding and constructing things.” He recalls experimenting with other metals, such as titanium, and finding them difficult to shape. “I always go back to copper,” he explains.

After spending a few years developing his craft, he formed Studio G7. Early on, Gowen found inspiration in the indigenous cultures of New Mexico and the American Southwest. “I did Navajo rugs, headdresses, all kinds of different things,” he recalls. “They were pretty elaborate and fun to do.” As he evolved as an artist, so too did his work evolve. “Somewhere along the line I ventured away from that into more contemporary and abstract pieces, things of that nature.”

The studio sources its copper from all over the United States. “Right now, I’m getting it from Una-Clad out of Minnesota,” he explains. “That’s really nice, clean and excellent copper.” He also buys from Revere Copper, which he considers to be a source of particularly high-quality metal, and from Thyssenkrupp when working on larger pieces. This range in sourcing allows Gowen and his studio to create works that vary widely in form and style.

Gred2.jpgGreg at work in his studio.
Photograph courtesy of Greg Gowen. 

These works include the Copper River series, featuring pieces such as Bow Hunter and the Buffalo Run line. These pieces are highly evocative of Native American culture, calling back to the work of Greg’s earlier days. Another collection, the Greg Gowan Signature series, stands as a testament to Studio G7’s unique style. These pieces utilize copper to its fullest extent, resulting in works that showcase the malleability and color flexibility of the medium.

The Studio’s New Mexican roots shine through in their patina process. “After years of experimenting with my own patinas and mixtures, I went here locally in Albuquerque,” Gowen explains. “We have a company called Rio Grande Dealer Supply, and they sell a product called Green Patina. I can get greens and aqua blues out of that.” The trick, Greg says, is all about temperature. “If you’re going green you’ve got to warm it up. If it is going blue, I keep it super cold.” 

Studio G7 has grown in the years since its formation, employing several artists to assist in the creative process. This includes Greg’s son, Noah. “He’s the one who’s here, he helps in this studio,” he explains. His other son, Kyle, founded H&K Studios with his wife in Colorado Springs. There he carries on the family legacy of copperworking. “It’s fun to see it going to the next generation,” Greg reflects. “From my parents to me, and now to Noah and Kyle.”

Gowen and his wife run the Gallery at Tamaya, located in the Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico. Sitting on native ground, the gallery’s location is fitting when one considers the history of Studio G7. “I didn’t find copper,” he reflects. “It was what I started with.” This history, mingled synergistically with the history of New Mexico and the southwest, gives Studio G7 its form.


Greg Gowen and Studio G7, Albuquerque, New Mexico

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