click image for enlargement
Spiritually and intellectually deepened during his years in Asia, Stowitts returned triumphantly to Paris with crates of paintings. He introduced European and American museum goers to the exotic lands and peoples he had grown to know and love. The Stowitts paintings drew record numbers of visitors to every museum venue and introduced the concept of blockbuster traveling exhibitions.

He returned to his homeland, accompanying the collections on tour at America's most prestigious museums. Returning to the stage for a season at the Hollywood Bowl, he was quickly signed by MGM where he appeared with Garbo in "The Painted Veil." With ample earnings from these appearances, he began an epic collection of life-sized nude American athletes. In 1936, Stowitts accompanied the American Champions to Berlin where the new collection was exhibited during the Olympic Games.

Returning to California, badly shaken by his brush with Nazi Germany and rocked by the wars in Europe and Asia, Stowitts returned to the sanctity of his easel. Working quietly in caretaker's quarters at an oceanside home in Redondo Beach, his savings depleted, he grew increasingly isolated. His paintings continued to tour museums but he was out of step with the modern world.

Soon thereafter he lost his devoted brother, Howard, to polio, and suffered the first of three heart attacks in as many months. When he finally rose from his hospital bed, Stowitts drew on enormous spiritual resources to see him through to the end of his life. Like the Phoenix, his favorite Fay Yen Fah motif, Stowitts willed himself to new spiritual heights as he felt the ebbing of his physical strength. He found peace as a teacher and prophet.

His near-death encounter brought him closer to friends who shared his interest in transcendental meditation and metaphysics. With renewed vigor, he made over 100 drawings and then returned to the easel to paint his most ambitious, and, arguably, his greatest collection.

Using the language of geometry, Stowitts employed the brilliant color palette offered by his favorite medium of egg tempera, adding gold and silver leaf, in a series of works that illuminate the heretofore invisible energies of consciousness. Communicating through symbols and states of consciousness the artist considered sacred, this suite of ten paintings represent Mandalas of Hidden Wisdom.

J. Joseph Dunaway, Curator of the forthcoming exhibition "Mandalas of the Hidden Wisdom: The Cosmos According to Stowitts," wrote that the intention of these paintings was to "....spur forward our individual and planetary evolutions. As such, they constitute a new page in the Hidden Wisdom - a 5000-plus year-old system of esoteric philosophy that attempts to make coherent and accessible the mysteries of the Unseen surrounding us, beginning with the nature of Deity and the laws of the material universe, and ending with a deeper understanding of ourselves and our very personal relationship between Spirit and Matter."

Stowitts, in a 1951 letter to Life Magazine, wrote: "It would be courageous of a mere human to state that the purpose of the solar system was the unfoldment of consciousness throughout the various kingdoms through a process called Evolution. But were that the purpose, no scientist would deny it was being accomplished."

Stowitts began an equally revealing series celebrating The Labors of Hercules, which he clearly intended as an extension of the Cosmos work. The then relatively unknown bodybuilder, Steve Reeves, served as the model for the new paintings.

With his mind and spirit reaching new heights of creativity, Stowitts pursued his last heroic mission in paint. Unfortunately his physical health waned and he grew too ill to complete the Hercules series. Shortly before his death, in a letter to a friend, Stowitts wrote what may well be the greatest understatement in the annals of the history of American art:

"I have done my best to contribute something lasting to civilization."

--Anne Holliday

"Briggs Hunt and William Golden," 1936
from American Champions
Tempera on reverse Masonite, 48" x 72"

"Bobby Riggs," 1936
from American Champions
Tempera on reverse Masonite
48" x 72"
"Frank Kurtz," 1936
from American Champions
Tempera on reverse Masonite
48" x 72"

"Woody Strode," 1936
from American Champions
Tempera on reverse Masonite, 48" x 72"

"The Crucifixion in Space," 1950
from Mandalas of the Hidden Wisdom:
The Cosmos According to Stowitts
Tempera and gold and silver leaf on reverse Masonite, 28" X 30"

"The Slaying of the Nemean Lion," (The Sign of Leo)
from The Labors of Hercules, 1952
Tempera on reverse Masonite, 28" X 30"
Copyright 1998. All rights reserved by Anne Holliday and The Stowitts Museum and Library.
Paintings courtesy of The Stowitts Museum and Library unless otherwise noted.