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Howie Green: Artist and Painter Biography
Howie Green came to international attention as a painter and artist with the publication of his book Jazz Fish Zen: Adventures in Mamboland. His colorful and whimsical artwork has been featured in over 40 group and solo shows and has adorned over 60 public and private murals.
Boston-based since the early 1970s Howie was raised in East Rochester and Clarence Center, NY. Howie has a unique artist's eye for the colorful fun that springs out of our popular culture. Images from comics, celebrities, movies, TV and various other flotsam and jetsam that washes up on the rocky shores of our popular media all make their way into Howie's colorful and fun Pop Art creations.
Howie uses a pop-fauvist color palette and has an eclectic, upbeat, approach to his subject matter. Howie says a lot of people tell him that they love "his colors". Howie comments "My colors? They don't belong to me. Colors are out there floating around. I just happen to use them all!"
Howie's childhood dream was to be a cartoonist and he has always been a pop-culture collector and enthusiast. The turning point in his life was a casual Christmas present he received when he was 11. Howie remembers, "I got a large pad of multi-colored newsprint paper and some drawing supplies, which was odd because until then I had not shown any great interest in art or any such thing. Something clicked inside me and I started drawing and I've never stopped." Early subject matter like Mickey Mouse and Dick Tracy got great reviews. "I saw what a great reaction I got from my relatives when I drew something they recognized. 'Hey, that's a great drawing of Dick Tracy' and such comments were like music to my ears" Howie said. "I had found my calling and all these years later I'm still painting cartoons!"
Out Into the World
Over the next few decades while pursuing a career as an illustrator and designer and winning over 45 awards, Howie continued to paint. Even a stint in Hollywood as Art Director at Jamie Masada's World Famous Laugh Factory couldn't deter Howie from pursuing his muse. It came close, but no cigar! (You can even see Howie's 10-second feature movie debut in the middle of "Video Valentino" now on YouTube.com.)
In the mid 80's he remembers another life-changing incident - "I was on the phone in one of those endless conference calls and and I was doodling while my mind was on a space walk and I looked down on the my pad and I had drawn a fish with a beret playing a saxophone. I thought it was odd, but it made me laugh so I put it up on my wall and kept looking at it for a few days and decided it was worth developing. Shortly after that, out of the clear blue sky, I got a phone call from Peter Max, who I thought was a friend of mine making a crank call," remembers Howie. "Max has always been one of my favorite artists and an obvious influence on me. I discovered his work in the mid-60s when he was an illustrator before the pop cosmic phase that made him famous." At the time of Max's phone call Howie was art director of "New Age Journal" and he had done a Max-like illustration for the magazine. Howie recalls "Peter saw my illustration and called me to see if we would like to use him to do artwork for the magazine. I was thrilled! Not only did he do artwork for "New Age Journal" for me, but I also worked with him for several years on projects for the University of New Hampshire including curating a show of Peter's posters at the University. I'm also proud to say, Peter did his very first sports painting for me for the cover of the Boston Celtics Media Guide."
The creation of the Jazz Fish and working with Peter Max began a very fertile period for Howie during which he produce hundreds of paintings centering around the Jazz Fish and Mamboland, the fanciful world he inhabits. The publication of Howie's book "Jazz Fish Zen" (Charles Tuttle Publishing), led to a series of solo and group shows filled with Mamboland artwork. In addition, Mamboland and its characters got translated into computer 3-D characters and animated for various promotion purposes including a children's activity CD-Rom. The Jazz Fish is even licensed as the name of one of the ships in the America's Cup Races, with a 20 foot tall Jazz Fish on the main sail.
Howie's portrait "Madonna Smoking" was featured in the British Art book "Madonna in Art" by Mem Memet.
Howie's album cover paintings won First Prize in the Absolut Vodka 25th Anniversary art competition in Boson, MA.
Howie painted 3 of the life-size bovines for the Cow Parade Boston public art event - two were released as collectible Cow Parade figures.
Howie's portrait of rapper Biggie Smalls was used for the cover on the album "Unbelievable: A Tribute to Biggie Smalls" which featured tracks from Puff Daddy, Lil' Kim, Kayne West and many others.
Howie has been engaged in an ongoing series of public art works including numerous murals for the Boston Red Sox Foundation and Sun Life Financial as well as numerous projects for the Mayor's Office of the City of Boston. He has also been painting an ongoing series of public utility boxes and he did a special holiday themed mural covering the front entrance to Boston City Hall. Howie also participated in the Rochester, NY "Benches on Parade" public art project and painted a utility box at the entrance to Rochester's South Wedge neighborhood.
Howie has created numerous product designs including the "Prairie Princess" & "Peace, Love & Music" Pop Art Pony collectible figures for Trail of the Painted Ponies, limited edition Pop Art toys,
Two of Howie's designs were chosen among the 40 finalists in the Volkswagen Polo international design competition, printed as 3D prototypes and exhibited at the Danish Design Center in Copenhagen, Denmark. Howie painted a group of 6 feet tall golf balls for the PGA Tour in Rochester NY, a Pop Art elephant for the Bangkok, Thailand Elephants Parade public art event & a piggy bank collectible figure for the Elephant Parade online store (which also sells a collectible figure of his parade elephant in several sizes).
Recent projects include an illustrated version of "The Invisible Man" by HG Wells (Simon & Schuster), "The American Dream" mural for the Punto Museum, a Pop Art Piano for the Town of Newton, MA. Artist-in-residence and mural at the Webster School in Manchester, NH, "Tasteful Boston" candy utility box at the Old State House in Boston, MA, a Pop Art guitar and ongoing series of album covers, and 3D snow globe holiday cards for John Hancock Insurance.
In addition Howie's doodle murals appear on cafe walls of the new Smith Student Center at Harvard and his Pop Art was featured on doors along the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail in Concord and Newton, MA and on the Mishigas Krewe float in the Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans.
© Howie Green