In the absence of hugging our fellow humans at this time, hugging a tree might be the next best thing. Wood’s “steadfastness and strength will steady us,” says Betsey-Rose Weiss, owner of American Folk Art & Framing (AFAF). With that in mind, AFAF will embrace and showcase six artists who choose wood as their medium of expression. Wood: Carving, Sculpting, Block Printing will be exhibited Thursday, August 6, through Tuesday, August 18. A preview of the show will be available on the website on Tuesday, August 4.
Artist Doug Frati attributes his urge to create to the long winters in his native Maine along with the self-reliance and independence the land rouses. Finding new ways of looking at the familiar is the impetus behind much of what he does. “The materials I work with supply the voice I bring to the vision,” he says. “Wood and I have had a long relationship. We’ve learned how to dance together. Sometimes it leads and sometimes I do.”
Among the carvings he will contribute to the exhibition is Pinecones in a Vase, which he calls “an exercise in the reduction of forms.” In his rendition of the pinecone, Maine’s state flower, he has added “a cup of rhythm and two tablespoons of humor,” he says.
For Lonnie and Twyla Money, creating art on their Kentucky farm is a partnership that began with a walking cane Lonnie made for his grandfather. A folk art dealer who saw it wanted one for himself and before he knew it, Lonnie was fielding requests for carvings of farm animals. When some wanted their carvings painted, Twyla, who had never dreamed of becoming an artist, began to take on the work and has since developed a signature style.
The hanging bird tree that will be exhibited at AFAF developed out of a standing tree they also create. Lonnie carves the birds from cedar, Twyla paints them and they are then mounted on a mountain laurel branch or on driftwood.
Additional artists whose work will be featured in this celebration of wood are Kent Ambler, who uses multiple blocks of wood that are chiseled to create layers of color incorporated into his wood block prints; Ivy Billiot, who carves birds using cedar or tupelo, woods native to his South Louisiana home, and paints them in subtle and realistic colors; and Jack Klippel, who creates finely constructed recreations of historic Southern churches.
When choosing themes for exhibitions at AFAF, Weiss searches the gallery’s vibrant collection for commonality among the artists. “They lead me to the themes that a show is created around,” she says. “It’s symbiotic.” And, she adds, “Wood and its inherent solid strength is needed now.”
American Folk Art & Framing is located at 64 Biltmore Avenue in Asheville. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the week. For more information, visit AmeriFolk.com or call 828.281.2134.