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Artistic Loft Living in Ozark, MO

Katherine Dowdy's loft meshes her rustic and mid-century style with beautifully crafted pieces from New Mexico and local artists.

By Caroline Mund

Sep 2021

Katherine leans on chair holding watering can
Photo by Brandon AlmsKatherine Dowdy's focus on revitalization extends outside her own home and onto the Ozark community in her work to revitalize downtown. Purchase Photo

417 Home: When did your interest in art begin?
Katherine Dowdy:
I hold a Master's in anthropology with a primary focus on Southwest archaeology, so my interest in art stems from those studies. My thesis was on rock art of Northeastern New Mexico.

417: Tell me more about your work and what led you to Ozark?
Although my title was Archaeologist, I worked in architectural, historic preservation in the New Mexico National Park Service. When I relocated here I worked in both areas; archaeological, cultural research and historic preservation, but I am now retired. My focus in Ozark has been preservation of the historic architecture of downtown and the Ozark Farmers Market since 2012. I moved here because of family.

417: When did you start collecting pieces of artwork?
While living and working in New Mexico I became a collector of any artwork I could acquire on an archaeologist's salary. So, my meager collection consists of contemporary Native American jewelry, textiles, pottery and paintings.

417: Talk to me a bit about your beautiful rooftop garden.
It’s our sanctuary. We have a garden on an adjacent roof to our loft. We don’t have to mow but we have to do a lot of flower tending. Our flower boxes are custom made by artist Michael Merlin Stelzer, who made them out of old metal boilers.

417: What inspired you guys to make this?
Just studying other rooftop gardens and the whole idea of loft living. It’s an urban type of approach. We were actually told our roof would last much longer because we are protecting it from UV deterioration. So who knew? We are preserving it.

417: How would you describe your style throughout your loft?
As far as art, we have some local art, which we are very proud of. But I moved here from New Mexico so I had friends who were painters. We have a lot of paintings by Native American people. And pottery. We love textiles but when it comes to furniture it’s mostly midcentury and industrial. So in other words we have no claim. It’s just killer pieces that speak to us. 

fireplace living area
Photos by Leah StiefermannKatherine Dowdy's loft is filled with unique pieces including crafted chimney caps by Tim Burroughs. Purchase Photo
Photos by Leah StiefermannDowdy's Southwest archaeology studies inspired her interest in art. Most of her collection focuses on contemporary Native American pieces. Purchase Photo
living room with black leather couches
Photos by Leah StiefermannDowdy describes her style as rustic-industrial with her partner's midcentury style to create a unique look. Purchase Photo
kitchen bar
Photos by Leah StiefermannIn Katherine Dowdy's loft kitchen, she displays fresh produce from the Ozark Farmers Market. Turn the page to read more about her space. Purchase Photo
outdoor table on rooftop
Photos by Leah StiefermannNot only does Dowdy not have to worry about maintenance, she can also rest easy knowing her rooftop garden protects her roof from deteriorating. Purchase Photo

417: Would you say your style for home decor has changed over the years; if so, how?
I've always swayed on the "rustic/industrial" side of style. Hence our artist-crafted chimney caps by Tim Burroughs, who is a Bass Pro artist, rusted steel planters and dining table by Michael Merlin Stelzer, metal fountain by Tom Torrens, and stainless blanco by Russ Rupert. But my partner's taste is full-on mid-century, so I've come to embrace the melding of those styles. It can be tricky sometimes, but we've made it work, I think.

417: What is a favorite art piece or collectible item you have?
K.D.: I would say my favorite pieces right now are two by Pam Pierson. I think they got us through the pandemic. We found ourselves staring at them a lot. They just brought life and a glow into that room. She’s an excellent painter.

417: How would you recommend others to spice up their own homes?
K.D.: What is special to us is paintings by people you know and support. I’d say to seek out original and real art because there are some very talented people here. Our dining table is made by a local artist as well.

417: How often do you incorporate new items into your home?
Some of our pieces are new and some of them we have had since the ’90s. It’s just when you can’t take it anymore and you are sick of looking at one piece. We’ve never done a full blown, you know, everything new, everything different at one time

417: You’re also very involved with the Ozark Farmers Market. Why has that become a passion for you?
K.D.: Well, everyone needs a farmers market and everyone needs farmers. We used to be in downtown Ozark down on the square for years and years until we finally just grew out of the space.

417:  How did you get started on revitalizing downtown Ozark?
K.D.: In 2000 we established the Ozark Main Street program and went from there. We worked with the city to rehabilitate just the square to get sidewalks, lighting, trees and other infrastructure projects.

417:  How did the community react to the new downtown ideas?
Well, they thought that we were crazy, but they felt it was about time. It was like how to get something like that started? We were 87% vacant in downtown Ozark. So the community embraced it.