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Christopher Jon Luke Dowgin

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Christopher Jon Luke Dowgin (Born January 23, 1972) is an illustrator, painter, writer, musician, and dancer who currently resides in Salem, Massachusetts. He has released twelve books, including the Salem Trilogy and his series of books on the underground tunnels of Salem. He has been a featured artist in the book Legendary Locals of Salem.

Dowgin's written and illustrated works include the Salem Trilogy, Mr. Pelinger's House & Intergalactic Roadshow, Max Teller's Amazing Adventure, and the Tyler: Boy on the Move series. Inspired by the likes of Ivan Albright, Francis Bacon, John Tenniel and Arthur Rackham, he utilizes graphite, colored pencil, and water colors in his illustrations, much of it featured throughout downtown Salem, MA.

Dowgin began paint dancing in 1992 behind live bands, creating large scale works in performance pieces that included comedy and dancing. Since then, he has painted behind various bands in clubs and festivals throughout the North Shore of Massachusetts, using unorthodox media such as baked beans, corned beef and cabbage, window caulking, road tar, and acrylic.

He has also released a pair of books, Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City and its sequel Sub Rosa, based on Salem's political history and focusing on the city's underground tunnels. As a promotional tie-in, he runs Salem Smugglers' Tours, a walking tour in downtown Salem.

Dowgin is also the editor and a contributing author of Arkham: Tales from the Flipside, a quarterly magazine highlighting science fiction and horror works by authors from Salem House Press. The Sinclair Narratives, a featured serial in the magazine, is historical fiction set in pre-settlement Salem from 1398 to the present day highlighting the adventures of Prince Henry Sinclair, famous in real life for the unsubstantiated stories of his connection to the Westford Knights and his journey to North America.

An experienced pianist and flutist, he draws on the Japanese styles of Shakuhachi and Noh as well as Native American and Jazz Fusion, incorporating a diverse collection of native flutes from various cultures and performing in clubs and festivals throughout the North Shore of Massachusetts. He has released one album, an ambient collection of flute and piano pieces entitled Cosmic Play.[1]

Early life[edit]

Dowgin was born January 23, 1972 in Princeton, New Jersey to Gerald and Karen (Madsen) Dowgin. His father was a secretary for the Office of Legislative Services in New Jersey.[2][3]

His family moved to Dayton, New Jersey, later Whiting, NJ in the Pine Barrens, where he grew up just outside the ruins of a nudist colony, a community where the mob distributed cocaine out of pizza shops and allegedly killed children in the Arsaco mineral pit. He once came across a dismembered corpse on the railroad tracks, deposited by Richard Rodgers aka the Last Call Killer.

Salem Massachusetts[edit]

Dowgin moved to Salem in 1992 to study illustration at Montserrat College of Art but dropped out when he realized his chosen courses had not been offered in several years. He decided to stay in Salem, becoming a local fixture. In 2013, he was listed in Legendary Locals of Salem, a book marketed to tourists. One of his paintings from "A Walk Through Salem", depicting the Hawthorne Hotel as a game token on a Monopoly Board with Rich Uncle Penny Bags crossing the street, hangs from the kiosk in front of Old Town Hall.

The Salem Trilogy[edit]

Dowgin's first book, A Walk Through Salem, is the first book of the "Salem Trilogy", a fairy tale for adults in which the narrator Mr. Zac (a character based on Ed Wynn) takes the reader through the portal of an "Unzipping Tree" into the magical, whimsical side of Salem, where flying fish stop at traffic lights, churches transform into rocket ships, tall ships drop anchor next to parking meters, and Vikings storm Dead Horse Beach.

In the sequel, A Walk Under Salem, Mr. Zac brings the reader into the tunnels to look for the golden egg of a boy emperor's soul before an international war starts. A Walk Under Salem was inspired by the tunnels that run under many buildings in downtown Salem. Dowgin researched the tunnels by sneaking into open houses and rummaging through the basements of shops owned by friends. In the process, he gathered enough information for Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City, a separate nonfiction book.

A Walk through Salem, A Walk Under Salem and the related walking tour won three Mass Cultural Commission grants.

During this period, Dowgin's Norge Forge Press also published The Wizard of Lynn, The Moon, the Sun, and 2 Fish, and Jasper: A Bunny's Tale. These were followed by the final chapter in the Salem Trilogy, A Walk Above Salem, in which the reader flies in a Caddy Balloon above Salem as a battle of the sexes rages between the Mack Industrial School for Girls and the Salem Boy's Fraternity using pea shooters and Nerf guns.

All of the characters in the Salem Trilogy are based on local shop owners and residents.

Other fiction[edit]

His next book, Gang Stories was intended for emerging pre-reader children. With only one page of type, Gang Stories depicts the adventures of four stuffed animals in the middle of the night while their child is asleep.

Gang Stories was followed by Max Teller's Amazing Adventure in which the main character grabs a bunch of balloons at Boston Common and floats away with a snail on top, traveling over famous landmarks of Boston and the North Shore.

In Mr. Pelinger's House & Intergalactic Roadshow, a psychedelic fantasy, siblings enter an abandoned house where they meet Mr. Pelinger who emerges from a magic map. Pelinger invites them through a keyhole where they find themselves in the Intergalactic Roadshow featuring Sitting Bull, General George Armstrong Custer and aliens.

Nonfiction[edit]

Dowgin's first nonfiction work, Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City is an account of Elias Hasket Derby Jr. and his creation of Salem's underground tunnel system to circumvent Thomas Jefferson's customs duties.

Its sequel, Sub Rosa, elaborates further on the tunnels' connection to the industries of smuggling, banking and scientific invention.

References[edit]

  1. "Cosmic Play". Soundcloud. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  2. "Property Tax New Jersey Assessment Study Commission" (PDF). New Jersey Legislature. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  3. "New Jersey's Tax Exemption And Abatement Laws". Home Help Guide Blog. Retrieved 28 May 2017.

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