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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Memorial shines light on mentor

Long-time UH theatrical scenic and lighting designer John Gow, whose colleagues described him as a gentle, brilliant and surprisingly humorous artist and mentor, was revered at his memorial service Tuesday.

‘He is a real inspiration and a mentor in every sense. He also became my dearest friend,’ theatre alumnus John Smetak said.

Gow died June 24, taking everyone by surprise.

‘I’m at a lost for words. He is incredibly talented. I learn more watching him than any other mentor,’ said lead carpenter Drew Hoovler, who worked with Gow for 28 years.

Gow’s gentle nature was warmly echoed throughout the service.

‘One of the most gentle persons we have ever known has left us,’ scenic and lighting design alumnus Matthew Schlief said.

Born in Ardmore, Okla., Gow graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in scenery and lighting design and earned a master’s degree in lighting design from Southern Methodist University.

In 1981, he became the lighting supervisor and scenic artist at the UH School of Theatre and Dance.

In addition to UH, Gow designed productions for theaters such as the Alley Theatre, Houston Shakespeare Festival and Stages Repertory Theatre.

‘He was never nominated for the Tony’s,’ said Sandy Judice, UH School of Theatre and Dance executive secretary. ‘But if he did, he would have won for his amazing designs.’

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