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Eric Dowdle

Utah Artist Pieces Together Stories

Deanna Devey | Photos by Kevin Kiernan Nov 16, 2018

Don’t be surprised to see yourself in a piece of Eric Dowdle’s art.

Known for his colorful, personality-filled scenes of places and events throughout the world, Dowdle likes telling the stories of people he meets.

“I don’t know how to not talk to people,” Dowdle says. “I immerse myself with them. I talk to the tourists, to the locals. I want to know what they love. I want to hear their opinions, their passions.” 

Those stories often end up in his art. In fact, his BYUtv show, “Painting the Town,” shows Dowdle incorporating vignettes of people he meets into his work.

He also paints characters from his own life — look closely for Dowdle’s high school art teacher, a panda for his son or a tulip for his wife. Fans even send in photos of themselves that Dowdle integrates into his art.

“I paint places and events and people and promote them,” Dowdle says. “I want to tell their stories to the world.”

The Artist's Story

Dowdle grew up on a farm in Wyoming where “life was all about stories” told around the dinner table. His passion for art began in high school with a teacher who turned students loose to draw, paint and sculpt.

After moving to Boston, Dowdle combined his two loves when he discovered folk art, which he describes as “great story art.” The city’s rich history, nostalgia and architecture inspired him to find those qualities in Utah’s much younger towns.

That desire launched his career when he received a commission to create eight folk paintings of Utah cities. As he portrayed places like Park City, the Salt Lake Avenues and St. George, he included the history, stories and unique characteristics of each area.

“Some of that stuff is still the best work I’ve ever done,” Dowdle says.

Since then, he has expanded access to his paintings and their stories by distributing his art as puzzles. He had the idea after doing a puzzle with a prominent businessman.

“Within 20 minutes, I knew who he was,” Dowdle says. “He was silly. He was relaxed. I found a puzzle to be the most disarming activity I’d ever done — all while studying and putting together art.”

His paintings work so well in this format that he’s had to “come to grips with being called the ‘Puzzle Guy.’” His puzzles allow people to focus on the many stories told in each painting. 

“It’s the most engaging form of art you can get,” Dowdle says.

From Puzzles to Museum

Along with launching new products, including sketchbooks and 3D art called Stratascapes, and releasing the third season of “Painting the Town,” Dowdle has another project in the works — one that focuses on telling stories from American history.  

To celebrate the country’s 250th anniversary in 2026, Dowdle and other prominent artists, musicians and historians are creating the largest American history museum west of the Mississippi. The George Washington Museum of American History will tour the nation as a multimedia exhibition depicting the greatest moments in the country’s history, before settling into a permanent home in Utah.

In addition to his role as founder, Dowdle, along with other artists, will paint scenes from America’s past. Together, these works will be “a renaissance of original art depicting America’s history like never before,” he says.

“We want to tell our nation’s history with civility and respect,” Dowdle says. “We want to celebrate America’s story.” 

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