Roy Dowell and Lari Pitman lived in Los Angeles for almost two decades. The house was a work of art. The residence was designed by the famous architect Richard Neutra and is located on a hilltop near Pasadena. Later, the couple hired Michael Maltzan as an architect to create a second house on the property. Pittman says there was an “ethos of potential” and “projection into the future” when he lived among great architecture.
However, the artists relocated to the Los Angeles center, close to their studios, a few years back. Pittman states they wanted to be closer to their studios and have a shorter commute. They also wanted more exposure for the humanity of a larger population. Dowell adds that there were other reasons as well. “Though most enjoyable, two houses on six acres created a tremendous workload.” They also retired from their roles as visual arts professors (Pittman, UCLA; Dowell, Otis College of Art and Design) and wanted to spend more time on their art.
They have been art-world luminaries of Los Angeles for decades, and their highly acclaimed work draws on the diverse energy of the city. Pittman is a native Angeleno who creates intricate, decorative paintings that combine historical, sexual, and political imagery. His work was recently reconstructed over 40 years, moving from the Hammer Museum in New York to Museo Jumex, Mexico City. Later this year, nine of his paintings will be displayed at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, including one that measures 33 feet. Dowell, a New Yorker, shows his paintings worldwide using a variety of folk motifs and patterns that suggest elusive narratives. Dowell says his paintings have many layers, both conceptually and physically.
Their new home, a three-story cottage built in 1930s Los Feliz, is the antithesis to the Neutra or Maltzan houses. Dowell states, “We are near restaurants, markets, and friends.” It has separate rooms. We realized that we needed to remember the concept of rooms. Not for their specific purposes, but for their unique environments.” Pittman adds: “It was in great shape–and it had swimming pools!”
The artists’ collections include African art, Mexican folk art, textiles, preColumbian pieces, contemporary and ceramic art, and their work. Since they graduated from the California Institute of the Arts, they have been collecting together. Pittman states that Roy has an excellent eye for detail and is a good researcher. “I love scale, drama, as well as a conceptual underpinning. Although we usually agree, I will not compromise anything involving human hair or teeth.