For Bowdoin College Museum of Art (BCMA) security guard Dan Dowd, guarding the museum’s collection is more than just a nine-to-five job; it’s brain food for his own creative aspirations.

A Mass. native, Dowd moved to Maine in 2001 to pursue art. In 2007, he joined Bowdoin’s new security staff after the BCMA reopened following its renovation.  

After taking studio art and art history courses during his undergraduate years at Framingham State University and immersing himself in a project to renovate a 19th century home, Dowd discovered his passion for found materials and objects since moving to Maine. 

“I’m really interested in objects—why they were made, how they were used, how long they were used, and ultimately why they were discarded,” said Dowd. 

Dowd draws inspiration from his local transfer station—where waste is deposited—collecting materials, fibers and random objects to use as fodder for his work. 

“Documentation of items, events, people and places is the driving force behind my found object and installation work,” Dowd writes in his artist statement. 

His work aims to highlight parallels between the lives of humans and the lives of objects. 

Dowd analogized the “patinas that objects develop and [the] wrinkles that humans develop and how people change through their lives.”

According to Dowd, patinas—the thin layer, such as rust oxidization, that materials acquire over time—may convey a variety of emotions, from comedy to tragedy to drama. His goal in rescuing these forgotten items and giving them a “second chance” is to depict and show the beauty and history of items that wouldn’t normally be praised for their aesthetic value. 

In addition to his current Gallery Framing exhibition on Pleasant Street, Dowd has been showcasing his artwork predominantly across the Northeast for over 10 years. Past solo exhibitions of his include "Anna Hepler's Head" at the Coleman Burke Gallery in Brunswick and "Born Again" at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. He has also been featured in several group exhibitions.

As a museum security guard, Dowd is constantly exposed to new artwork, which continuously gives him new ideas.

“I’m certainly influenced by the works on the walls,” Dowd said. “As soon as new work goes on the walls, I can’t wait to eat it up and find out about it.”

Dowd said he is particularly excited to see new pieces from the museum’s upcoming exhibit: “PAST FUTURES: Science Fiction, Space Travel, and Postwar Art of the Americas.” 
According to Dowd, the best part of his job is meeting people and learning about new artists. 
As far as aspirations for the future, Dowd hopes to continue showcasing his work in the community.

Dowd’s work will be included in Art in the Park in Worcester, MA, this summer, in addition to a solo installation at the Masonic Temple in Portland this July. 

“I would love to eventually be affiliated with and be represented by a gallery,” Dowd said. “My ultimate goal is to be a working artist that survives solely through my artwork.”

Dowd’s work is on display through Saturday at the Gallery Framing in Brunswick as part of the “Paired Devices” exhibition—a gathering of the work of five mid-coast Maine artists surrounding tools, hardware and everyday objects.