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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

Artist Eric Dowdle brings folk art puzzles, 'stratascapes' to Toy Fair


Dowdle Stratascape made from "Central Park" puzzle

Artist Eric Dowdle brought his Dowdle Puzzles line--and then some-- to the Toy Industry Association's 114th North American International Toy Fair.

Dowdle's roughly 350 puzzle titles artfully depict cities and their cultural character. They also include famous parks and places like Niagara Falls, sports teams, and miscellaneous groupings (like Cats Around the World and Balloon Festival) and activities (Dog Walkers). But he also showed his Stratascape "dimensional artwork" 3D pieces created from his puzzle art and employing giclee printing on high-quality archival canvas, precision laser cutting and hand assembly—and all individually signed.

Likewise, wooden puzzles from Dowdle's puzzle art, packaged in custom boxes, can be made-to-order.

"My puzzles show the relationship between people and their environment," said Dowdle, specifically distinguishing his city puzzles from category competition.

"I go to a city and seek out the local population and historic sites in finding the color and heartbeat of the town—and getting great stories. It naturally leads to meeting great people who become part of the paintings."

He used his Central Park puzzle as an example.

"I wanted to do an ice skating piece in Central Park, and four years ago during Toy Fair I went to see the musical Wicked—and ended up placing the entire cast on a bridge overlooking the rink, and also included different people I met," said Dowdle, who relates the characters and stories behind and included in his puzzles in text inserts packaged in the boxes.

Some of these real characters have ended up on Dowdle's PBS show Painting the Town with Eric Dowdle—also available online via BYUtv. The series is now in the middle of its second season.

Via BYUradio, Dowdle also has a radio show, Traveling with Eric Dowdle.



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