May/June 2008 ~ ARTISAN

Leslie Rowland, Habitat Design Studios, Las Vegas, Nevada
By Phil Hagen

One chapter of Leslie Rowland's life had her in the Himalayas studying the impact of tourism. In the next, she was doing pretty much the exact opposite: re-creating natural environments in a place built on tourism - Las Vegas.

A series of "flukes" prompted the ironic transition of a budding scientist from Evergreen State College to this Mojave Desert's glitzy boomtown. But, in a final fluke, it wasn't the urban ecology business idea, Habitat Design Studios, that kept her here for 12 years. Go figure: Las Vegas wasn't ready to support a wildlife garden designer. "It was a hard sell," she admits.

No, it was in the next chapter where everything came together. She kept the name of her operation, but instead of building backyard environments for tortoises and butterflies, Rowland began turning vintage furniture and found objects into fine art. "I just sort of branched out," she says...

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November/December 2007 ~ H+D (Home Design) Magazine

The Science of Art
By Shelby Allison McGee, Photography by Francis Geroge

Triathlete, mountaineer, scientist... artist?

Leslie Rowland of Las Vegas-based Habitat Design Studios is a paint-mixin' and furniturn-fixin' one-woman factotum that began gaining recognition with her nonpareil technique of breathing new life into even the most ordinary furnishings...

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May 30, 2007 ~ SECOND SURFACE [Review Photo by Ryan Weber]

Leslie Rowland Creates Cultural Impact with Fine Art Furnishings
By Jennifer Henry

Poet, painter and pop feminist Leslie Rowland is unapologetic about her unconventional medium. The former environmental science student passionately pursues the redefinition of art by recycling and refinishing furnishings that are often found in thrift stores. "Everything should be covered in art," she laughs.

Rowland insists canvas isn't the only suitable surface for paint. "After a few weeks, a painting just becomes part of the wall," she explains. "But you use your dresser everyday and you're forced to notice it, to think about it, to appreciate it -and it's art."

During her studies at Evergreen University, Rowland toured the Himalayas to conduct a cultural impact study that still inspires her a decade later. In addition to the ancient surfaces with the patina of countless coats of paint, worn by weather and eons of age that are regularly reflected in Rowland's works, the artist incorporates life lessons she gleaned from the cultures she has visited.

"These were cultures that were pure, untouched by outside influences, where we would be huffing and puffing up the mountain, complaining that our feet hurt and a monk with newspaper wrapped around his feet would breeze past us," she says. "I realized they had something we don't."

That "something" Rowland says, is embodied in her use of post-consumer goods, philosophical snippets and weathered aesthetics. Considered junk by collectors who deem them unsalvageable, the pieces she chooses always need some serious TLC before she can concentrate on the surface. "Some of them are literally falling apart but figuring out how to put them back together is part of the process," she says.

As for the iconography, poems and quotes that adorn Rowland's already charming paint-caked and crackled surfaces, the artist says she sticks to three themes. "Silly and a little sarcastic or deeply philosophical, or both," she says with a smile.

Covering the "both" category with purring panache is Rowland's "Femme Fatale" series, featuring silver screen sirens such as the notoriously feisty feline Zsa Zsa Gabor, who remind Rowland to "rule with a velvet glove." Rowland's piece, "Zsa Zsa's Secret," is spelled out in classic typewriter characters across a chest of drawers inspired by Gabor's salacious stance on feminism and the silver screen star's infamous quote, "The women's movement hasn't changed my sex life. It wouldn't dare."

Pope Pius XII's love for libations is immortalized on a cherry red wine cart with his exultation, "Wine in itself is an excellent thing." Rowland's philosophy often follows function; a dilapidated tea table project stood incomplete until she was inspired to pen a poem entitled "Tea with the Devil," in which an old woman discovers the secret to reclaiming her youth from a beguiling Beelzebub.

Though many of Rowland's pieces share the artist's distinctive surfaces, decoupage images and embossed typeface, each one is unique. "They all have their own story," she says. "Sometimes they tell me what it is when I find them, sometimes I just make it up as I go along. But in the end they always become art."

September 12, 2005 ~ Review-Journal [Review Photos]

Outspoken Art
by Jane Kalinowsky

An artist's reception took place recently in the rotunda gallery of the Clark County Government Center for Leslie Rowland's exhibit "If These Drawers Could Talk." Rowland uses ordinary furniture as a canvas to show images and quotations from famous people. Clockwise from top, Rowland places a rhinestone on her forehead that she removed from a humorous piece called "Elvis the Pelvis." Rowland chose who she considers heroes to display on drawers, with photos and phrases relevant to their lives. Rowland points to a piece called "My Father's Hero," which shows words and pictures of comedian W.C. Fields. The exhibit runs through Oct. 7.

September 1-7, 2005 ~ Las Vegas Weekly

[Calendar] Picks ~ ART

Naked ladies. Got your attention, huh? You'll be glad to know we weren't reeling you in with such tasty bait to leave you hanging on the hook. Naked Lady [featuring Leslie Rowland's "What the Gypsy Knows"] is an exhibit of First Friday art with two criteria: There must be a lady, and she must be naked. The show also includes video by Inaqui Munoz and sound by Anamorphosis.

September 2
MTZC
1551 S. Commerce Street

September 1, 2005 ~ CityLife

Pick of the Week / ART ~ Fri Sept 2
by Kelle Schillaci

...Still busy raising eyebrows (and libidos) in their Commerce Street Studio, the folds at MTZC (formerly Gallery MTZ) are offering up some good old-fashioned T&A - all in the name of art, of course. Two major criteria were stipulated on the artists' call: "1. There must be at least one lady. 2. She must be naked." The theme proved fruitful, as many of the city's most prominent underground artists offered up a wide variety of pieces, including [Leslie Rowland]...

Naked Lady
MTZC
1551 S. Commerce Street

August 25-31, 2005 ~ Las Vegas Weekly

[Calendar] Picks ~ ART

Have you ever thought "Guernica" would make a good coatrack or the "Mona Lisa" a nice place to store underthings? Sure, we all have, but only Leslie Rowland had the chutzpah to do it. Her show, If These Drawers Could Talk, features furnitart-painted drawers and coaches featuring quotes and images often in tribute to classic personalities like Mae West and W.C. Fields. A neat idea and it's fu to say "funitart" - kinda rolls off the tongue doesn't it?

Through October 7
Clark County Government Center
500 S. Grand Central Parkway

August 25, 2005 ~ CityLife

ART / Sadistic, Surreal Playgrounds
By Kelle Schillaci

...For those who would opt against a goat-headed Lolita garden ornament, but who like the idea of usable art, check out the work of Leslie Rowland, which is currently furnishing the Government Center's spacious rotunda. (Through Sept. 30. See "Art" listings) Equal parts whimsical, sentimental and practical, Rowland's work taps an unsaturated market, and her unique furniture creations are designed to be used. No, really. Look closely at the Mae West desk and you may find lingering coffee rings made by the artist herself.

The dozen pieces range from celeb-styled desks and bureaus (spot homages to Einstein, W.C. Fields and Elvis' swiveling pelvis) to idea-themed designs coated with carved bits of poetry, painted quotes, texturized designs and suggestive subtexts (clue: read the upper-case letters). Eastern, western and pop-culture philosophies clash and overlap, only to be neatly wrapped in very unique home furnishings. Go ahead, peek in the drawers. The artist encourages it.

Weekend Warriors
Through Sept. 16
CCSN Fine Arts Gallery
3200 E. Cheyenne Ave.

August 18, 2005 ~ CityLife [Review Photo]

Pick of the Week / Art ~ Mon Aug 22
by Kelle Schillaci

...There are plenty of stupid furniture trends better off forgotten: Wicker, futons and beanbags come to mind. Don't even get me started on Ikea. I once saw fistfights breakout in the parking lot when the Swedish do-it-yourself empire opened a warehouse in the Bay Area. Otherwise intelligent people nearly imploded with stupid excitement over corkboard CD racks you need an engineering degree to construct. I don't get it.

Artist Leslie Rowland has the right idea - and her distinctive designs are kind of the couture of the furniture world. No two pieces are alike - and they ooze personality. Rowland's lofty creative goal is to "Get art off the walls and pedestals and into our daily existence." Ironic humor , powerful memory and authentic sentiment are the glue that quite literally fuses function and frivolity in her work. The furniture items themselves are largely utilitarian in nature - desks, ironing boards, lawn chairs - but generally contain clever quotes, colorful photographs, and messages equal parts clever and cognitive. Some pieces, like the W.C. Fields desk, even offer words to live by: "I believe in the marriage knot," it says over one drawer, "as long as it's around the women's neck." No sirree, you won't be finding gems like that at Ikea.

If These Drawers Could Talk
Clark County Government Center
500 South Grand Central Pkwy.
March, 31, 2005 ~ CityLife [Review Photo]

Judgment Day
CAC's 16th Annual Juried Show reveals breadth of local talent
By Kelle Schillaci

...Leslie Rowland's beautifully refinished antique buffet, "My Father's Hero" contains and artistic homage to W.C. Fields...
"There are a lot of high-quality pieces on display," says Natalia Ortiz, CAC's Gallery Director. "As we continue this event, we really get to see the variety of art and artists that Las Vegas has to offer."

CAC 16th Annual Juried Show
Contemporary Arts Collective (in the Arts Factory)
101 E. Charleston Blvd., Suite 101

March 24, 2005 ~ CityLife

Ladies Night
By Emmily Bristol

...[Leslie Rowland's] images of Las Vegas women are nuanced and pronounced, from a weathered ironing board to the cliche' showgirl...

The 100 Years of Influence combined exhibit is scheduled at the Las Vegas Art Museum (9600 W. Sahara Ave.) through May 22. Those interested in more information on the exhibit can visit www.womenofdiversity.org.