One to watch: Nevada City artist featured in cross-country exhibits |

One to watch: Nevada City artist featured in cross-country exhibits

Richard Downs is living his dream.

As the sun filters down through pine trees, Downs shows off a towering cardboard model he has constructed outside his Nevada City home. The piece is a replica design that will help guide him in the creation of the final sculpture that will be made from steel. At 9-feet tall, it’s the largest piece the artist has attempted in that medium. The sculpture, commissioned by a client in the Bay Area, is on scale with Downs’ fine art career, which is has taken a large step forward into the national scene recently.

“There is a huge break in fine arts for me right now,” Downs said.

It’s only taken him 30 years.

Downs has made a career of graphic arts and illustration for magazines and publications, including a recent cover for an International Monetary Fund publication. He also teaches graphic art at Sierra College and instructs online through the Rocky Mountain College of Design.

“But my heart has always been in fine arts,” said Downs, who works primarily in monotype and sculpture.

His marketing savvy and perseverance got his work in to a gallery in Santa Barbara. Then in January he received word that the TEW Galleries in Atlanta would feature 17 pieces of his. The exhibit opened March 6 and runs through April 4.

In his studio Tuesday, Downs pulled out vivid monotypes from a series he did on couples. The prints, waiting to be framed, will be sent to Seattle where another gallery has agreed to install his pieces.

“It’s an exciting time,” Downs said.

While he will continue to teach, Downs said now that his fine art career has “got some legs” he hopes to keep his time and focus in that arena. He has plans to pursue installations in galleries in other regions of the U.S. in addition to seeking sculptural public art opportunities.

“I’m so thankful because I’m going something that I absolutely want to do,” he said. “I’ve been wanting this for 30 years.”

All it took was a little luck and a whole lot of perseverance. It’s a career worthy of watching to see what other good things are to come.

His work is represented by Richard’s work is represented by: TEW Galleries, Atlanta; Frederick Holmes and Company, Seattle; Elizabeth Gordon Gallery, Santa Barbara; and Riverside Studios, Truckee.

Learn more about Richard Downs and his work at or call his studio at 530-205-8939.

Features Editor Brett Bentley can be reached at or by calling 530-477-4219.

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