LOWELL is a stunning shop with a tight Instagram game: For the unacquainted, the shop/gallery specializes in vintage merchandise, as well as work by contemporary artists and makers. As a friend put it, they're a "treasure shop," with a well-curated collection of curiosities, covering everything from zines to rugs to clothing to the tiniest, quarter-inch-tall tchotchkes. A lot of it has a Southwest feel. Think turquoise, Navajo rugs, and small handmade sculptures from Mexico.
Lowell also happens to be a great place to find some smart art that's affordable. This month, artist Natalie Anne Howard shows Diurnal Doldrums, a collection of 12 pieces. It's a dynamic selection of acrylic and gouache on wood, canvas, and paper. The work is bright, evoking the psychedelic '60s, with a slight druggy feel. Plus there's a '90s nostalgia: patterned shapes, and a penchant for the grotesque and absurd.
The paintings are like an exercise in surrealism—in particular, a subconscious "automatic drawing." In one of several smaller pieces, "Time Bomb," the explosive of the title walks around, fuse lit, wearing a big smile as it squashes daisies (who also have faces). Some of the forms in the show are awkward, as in the painting "Sunflower Girl," a portrait of a blonde woman with an extra-long neck, nostrils flared, holding a sunflower. A favorite piece is "Silly Angel," a piece of canvas cut out and laid on top of a landscape of butterflies. This is maybe the most energetic of the pieces; the collaging creates a weird sense of compressed space. Like the items in the shop itself, the feel of these pieces is a poetic, Fauvist primitivism, with all of the endearing imperfections that result from being handmade.
Things feel super warm and inviting inside Lowell, including the shop owners, who have to be some of the friendliest in town. Above all, it feels authentic and cared-for—it's obvious that a lot of thought and love has been put into every aspect for the visitor. It's a good example of how to do it right: When you curate like a pro, the whole experience becomes art.