Wonderful Wolfe Bowart
In keeping with the theme of memory and memories in Letter’s End, Wolfe Bowart shares his memories of childhood and growing up.
“I grew up in a family of painters, writers and dancers. Luckily, my brother, Wythe, filled the spot [of painter] better than I could ever have hoped to, so I spent my time dreaming up performances that were staged for family members and neighbours. I had a great time. I’ve always enjoyed performing for people; making people laugh” he says.
Bowart continues, “All children are naturally playful. I have an old 8mm film of me pretending to be a surgeon. I was six years old. It’s very funny and makes me laugh to this day. As a child I used to watch the silent film comedies of Charlie Chaplin and Jacques Tati. I would perform magic and puppet shows for the children in the neighborhood. So I guess I became interested in the performing arts at a very young age.”
It is hard to imagine getting bored spending time with this talented man as humor seems to be central to his person, both off-stage and on-stage. In sharing his daily routine, he tells us in jest that apart from waking at 5 a.m. for a five-mile run, “I meditate for two hours after which I volunteer at a local community center and teach retired magicians’ bunnies to remember how to hop.”
Bowart believes that the arts have the power to heal, especially through humor and laughter. “Research has shown that when a person laughs, it lights up many regions of the brain. Laughter elevates mood, decreases stress hormones, increases immunity, lowers blood pressure, is universal, is authentic (as the brain can tell when a laugh is fake), and it signals safety as it evolved as part of social play and showed that things were safe.”
On how he hopes to be remembered, Bowart explains, “When I work as a teacher, we often have this conversation. I developed an exercise called the Legacy Drawing. It’s a simple drawing that is a way to illustrate a memory of someone you’ve lost. I remember one boy lost his grandfather and the best thing he remembered about his grandpa was that he loved to feed the cows. And he remembered that the cows were happy, so his Legacy Drawing for his grandfather was a smiling cow. Kids also draw Legacy Drawings for themselves. Some want to be remembered as the best big sister or student and some draw pictures of themselves as sports stars or pop stars. I guess my Legacy Drawing would be of a funny and compassionate man who likes to make tea for his wife.”
Bowart’s philosophy of life resonates the simple adage that one should live life to the fullest and fill it with positive experiences that will become our best memories.
In his own words, “Don’t worry. Be happy, and remember to breathe!”