“It’s in the morning for most of us. It’s that time, those few seconds when we’re coming out of sleep, but we’re not really awake yet. For those few seconds, we’re something more primitive than what we are about to become. We have just slept the sleep of our most distant ancestors, and something of them and their world still clings to us. For those few moments we are unformed, uncivilized. We are not the people we know as ourselves, but creatures more in tune with a tree than a keyboard. We are untitled, unnamed, natural, suspended between was and will be, the tadpole before the frog, the worm before the butterfly. We are for a few brief moments, anything and everything we could be. And then… and then---ah---we open our eyes and the day is before us…and we become ourselves.”
Lovetts Gallery is proud and grateful for the wood carvers we represent. These artists are certainly in tune to themselves and nature. Hollywood may make an actress prettier by the makeup and wardrobe they add to her, but the artist who works with wood brings out the beauty already there by what he removes, exposing the wonderful and individual details under its skin.
Working with wood requires tediousness, precision, patience, a clear vision and an ability to conform and adapt direction to be in harmony with each piece, as no two pieces are grained and veined exactly the same. The artist and wood must orchestrate together with flexibility and yet with great tension. The value of the woodcarver is apparent when you realize the intimacy that’s imparted from the artist into his wood pieces and to the collector.
Woodworking is one of the earliest art media’s. What an enchanting time in history when humans found art in wood, itself a grand endeavor. Wood is one of humankind’s most venerable natural resources. Looking at the primitive point in time, wood was essential as it was creatively utilized for fire-building, shelter, tools, sailing vessels, dishes, containers, musical instruments, masks, religious and architectural work. It still is today, in addition to things now, as paper, beautiful floors and furniture pieces, always splendidly useful. There isn’t any place that wood has not performed an exquisite, important and enriching part of our lives. But……. woodcarvers take it to the level of art. What a meaningful way to honor wood. Through the passion of the artist, they cause us to stop and take pause in our busy and most times, too hectic lives to reflect and appreciate the gift of wood.
Woodcarvings have withstood poorly the vicissitudes of time and climate in the past, causing many works of wood art unable to stand the test of time as bronze or stone works were able. But new innovations came, thanks to sealants and protective materials that will make a wood piece last indefinitely…………and the rest……….is history!
The special artists in wood at Lovetts Gallery are as follows:
Chad Awalt has a family legacy in the working of wood. With his academic background in Anatomy and Physiology, Chad starts a piece with a sculpture of a real life model to exact form and measurement to guide him on the size of log it will require. We have works of his in Cedar, Cherry, Ambrosia Maple and Box Elder. After the removal process and the sculpting is near its final form, it is kiln dried and then its on to sanding and finishing. A lot. To a highly polished surface to bring out the wood grain. Next step is hand tools, chisels and shapers. Occasionally, Awalt inlays gold leafing, adds color and or burned patterns on some pieces. They are truly works of art. (pssst…..Chad also does beautiful paintings in mixed media!)
Bill Evans has a before and after to his life. Before wood turning and after wood turning! That is how passionate this man feels about his art. Who could have known how poetic and life changing receiving a mini-lathe for Christmas from his wife would be. Bill particularly desires to work on large projects. He makes use of wood that he feels shows unique characteristics, like Elm Burl. He also adds carving and embellishments to some of his turned pieces. This artist loves to set challenges for himself in design and techniques and that shows in his art.
Ron Gerton employs an Art Nouveau style to his work as his favorite design for inspiration. The Bonsai plant, skillfully trained to defy nature and gravity, is a classic example and heavily influences his work. Ron finds it meaningful to implement elements of nature in his pieces and purpose in repurposing figures greatly in his creations. He casts his own bronzes which is in combination with some of his wood work. Gerton’s motto is, “Everything is a raw material for something else”. Going green, he uses industrial materials he finds. He does table and wall pieces.
Ken Hager found his love for wood turning after his retirement. I should say rather he found the “time” for his love of working with wood after retirement. Being very prolific in his creations and vast array of wood types he works from, it is clear to see how Ken is driven through his passion and imagination and skill. Burls, like Myrtle, Buckeye, Mesquite, Cherry, and Maple, Lace Bark Elm, Hackberry, Pecan, Ironwood, Cedar, and Australian Walnut are woods he uses. Some pieces have Lapis or Turquoise inlay. He has added Brass, Calcite, Jasper, Pearl, Rhodonite and Chalcedony to others as well as incorporating weaving. Truly works of art!
Arthur Lopez is new to Lovetts Gallery and we are anxiously waiting for his artistic pieces to arrive. So I am carving out some time to introduce you to him now. In his own words, “I try to capture with intentional ethical sensitivity and undaunted heart-felt commentary, modern religious, secular and political issues with humor and a breath of fresh air”. Lopez is a wood sculpture artist who uses traditional methods to create contemporary pieces. He says although a majority of his work is of the Saints, you don’t have to be of any particular religion to appreciate them as art. He chose this medium for expressing the full range of his culture and the world around him. Born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Lopez is proud to be working in the long tradition of New Mexico Santero artists; hand carved painted wood sculptures. Welcome Arthur!
James Bud Smith creates wood pieces with a distinctive style. Being Native American, coupled with the personal aspects of his life, emotions and experiences, James finds no other medium as fitting and necessary for himself as the art of wood carving. The hands-on tactile practice of this three dimensional art allows him as a Cherokee wood carver to push the boundaries with Native art forms. He may use Walnut, Cherry or Butternut wood; he may create an animal, mask or do a figurative. He has challenged taboos and strictures to some in the Native art world with his depictions of nudity in his figurative works. Smith says, “I work, see and feel with my hands, with the hope they will speak.” They do James and we see and hear!
James Vander Lind, produces turned works of art that include spindle turning, open and closed vessels. He works with domestic woods and exotic woods from all over the world. James also embellishes some of his pieces with inlays of rare woods and turquoise. Vander Linds goal as an artist in woodturning is to uncover the natural beauty that lies beneath the bark of a log and to create a shape that is both an artistic expression and pleasure to the eye. He uses a clear lacquer on nearly all of his work so the true natural color of the wood is highlighted. Beautiful pieces!
Chris Wilson creates a wide range of wildlife sculptures. His style moves from the abstract to the realistic. He specializes in waterfowl and songbirds for his subjects, as Chris is an avid birder and nature conservationist. Inspired by nature, he is particularly captivated by the beauty of birds and their ability to fly. His aim in sculpting is to capture these unique characteristics. With lots of detail, form, space, light, texture and color, Wilson works to illustrate a harmonious and thought provoking sculpture, whether in wood, stone, bronze or steel. In his “emerging series”, you see the partially formed bird as he is carved from the wood. “Emerging Quail” is in the gallery. Welcome to Chris, who is new to Lovetts Gallery!
As you can see, these are very talented, very passionate and very time honoring artists of wood! They all have multitudes of awards and distinguishments to their names and work, and with collectors of their pieces all around the world.
We are glad that when these artists are wide-eyed awake and become themselves, after those early first few moments from their slumber, when we are all creatures more in tune with the trees....that they are still creatures more in tune with the trees!
Louis Nizer said, “A man who works with his hands is a laborer; A man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; But a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.
“Knock on wood” that you find the time to come in and see their beautiful work! Thomas Hardy spoke, “to dwellers in a wood, almost every tree has its voice as well as its feature”. I believe these artists have expressed both of these most honorably.
WELCOME TO THE IMAGINATION AT LOVETTS GALLERY