I have been working with wood, sometimes professionally and sometimes out of passionate interest, for more than 25 years. I have crafted furniture and cabinets, and worked with a home builder and architectural consultant to restore log and post-and-beam homes in Virginia. I look back on those experiences and think about the years of effort I put into making wood straight and flat, and suspect that is one reason the lathe—which emphasizes round and flowing lines—offers such a creative outlet. Many of my pieces are utilitarian, but reflect my conviction that art should be a fundamental part of our daily lives. I also enjoy pushing boundaries and exploring form, texture, and color in more abstract pieces.
As a medium for artistic expression, wood offers unique qualities. Depending on an unpredictable blend of evolution and serendipity, the average tree may live for decades or centuries. Each day the tree is exposed to weather, gravity, and sometimes random events such as fire or an avalanche. Daily forces like wind and periodic events like fire leave tell tale signs in the grain of the wood. I like to think of this relationship between a tree and its environment as a conversation recorded in growth rings and the tree’s form. My task as a wood artist is to interpret that conversation, to take my place in the conversation, and to determine how to best reveal and share this long, slow dialogue with the world at large.
My work now encapsulates two of my interests that I never anticipated combining—archeology and woodworking. For my petroglyph series, I use the lathe to create a starting point or palette for further alteration and exploration. My goal in this body of work is to create found objects, artifacts that might come from some remote cliff dwelling in a Southwest canyon, carrying messages from long vanished cultures. Exploring the wilderness in search of ancient petroglyphs offers a reward unlike any other pastime. The thrill of discovery never diminishes when the trail negotiates a bend and a scene crafted thousands of years ago looms large on a boulder or canyon wall. These panels often reflect careful consideration for placement by their originators, as they seem to occupy a calculated niche in a space defined by stains or cracks in the rock. While my lathe and the size of the wood I obtain limit the scale of my work, I give thoughtful consideration to those qualities of petroglyphs that make them so special. To that end, my pieces in this series are usually three dimensional (decorated on both sides) to offer the viewer an opportunity to explore and discover nuances in each sculpture.
Shown are examples of Don's work. Call or e-mail for price and additional visuals.