As published in the Red Rock News
Sedona Public Library is pleased to once again use our beautiful space to exhibit a local artisan’s stunning work. Please join us in welcoming local guitarist and specialty guitar creator Ed Dowling, as we exhibit his guitars through Friday, May 21. Dowling will also perform at the Library on Friday, March 14, at 5 p.m. (masks required).
Ed Dowling began his career as a mechanical engineer and since early 1960 has created an extensive product line of machines and fixtures for clients such as IBM, Motorola, Xerox, and others. Since moving to the Verde Valley in 2002, he has also done machine engineering for shops in Cottonwood and Jerome. Always a musician at heart, Dowling has also played, created, and repaired guitars for most of the last 40 years. He is particularly fond of “resurrecting” guitars that were thought to be un-repairable.
“I have had an almost mystical appreciation for the guitar,” he explains on his website, where he recalls seeing his first one as a child. A tinkerer from early on, Dowling’s fascination for design and sound, along with his own talent, have led him to a life devoted to music. It makes sense that he has combined his skills as an engineer with his musical prowess to make unique, beautiful, and great-sounding instruments. Even more interesting, Dowling’s designs are made completely from metal.
Dowling creates “technophonic” guitars using a variety of metal parts—all his own designs. As Dowling explains it, he truly does appreciate and love guitars made of wood, but wood is adversely affected by heat, moisture, pressure, and age. He has solved that vulnerability by making metal guitars that not only have fabulous sound, but, according to Dowling, “You can hose them down or throw them into a lake” and they remain stable. (However, our librarians do not recommend throwing guitars in the lake.)
Dowling’s guitar creations and masterfully repaired instruments are currently on exhibit at Sedona Public Library on the center stacks. Jim Thomas, a Cottonwood musician, said, “As a 40-year guitarist myself, it is amazing to see what Ed has done with these old guitars. Just maintaining a guitar requires a significant amount of effort, and I can’t imagine the time and labor that must go into refurbishing them. Truly a labor of love.”
Dowling’s socially distanced performance on Friday, March 14, will include his typical repertoire. He explains that he is inspired most by American guitarist and composer John Fahey. “I play extensively in open tunings. I play fingerstyle guitar, acoustic lap steel, bottleneck / slide guitar, five-string banjo, dobro, and mandolin. My styles range from blues to bluegrass, and I also compose for guitar and five-string banjo."
The Library is excited to present this local artisan’s work, both the guitars and the performance. Please join us on Friday, March 14 for this fun performance and be sure to stop by this week to see the guitars on display.
Sedona Public Library is an independently run, 501(c)(3), privately owned, debt-free, nonprofit organization providing public services. We receive support from the City of Sedona and the Friends of the Sedona Library, property tax dollars from Yavapai and Coconino Counties, and gifts from businesses, foundations, and individuals like you. Thank you. Visit sedonalibrary.org to learn more.
Sedona Public Library
Column for May 14, 2021
Written by Anne Marie Mackler, Development Director
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Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News.