Galleries Visual Arts

W.O.W. (Wood Only Work) at Blue Spiral 1

Attenuation mesquite. Paul Fennell, artist

Attenuation mesquite. Paul Fennell, artist

Blue Spiral 1 presents the international wood exhibition W.O.W. (Wood Only Work), beginning with an opening reception on Friday, July 5, from 5–8 p.m., and running through August 31. The show is held in conjunction with the American Association of Woodturners Symposium in Raleigh and features the work of more than 20 world-class woodturners and sculptors.

“Wood is unique as a material for art, compared to clay or glass,” says participating artist J. Paul Fennell. “It’s organic, having had a former life within a tree, and each piece is characteristically different from any other in color, grain, texture and weight.”

Using both machine-cut and natural surfaces, the artists work with the woodgrain by resurfacing it via sawing, bleaching, sandblasting and exposing surfaces to rain, sunlight and dry heat. Their carving methods range from using the lathe to produce refined shapes, to using chainsaws for unpredictable abstract forms.

“I use a lathe-turned hollow form as a three- dimensional canvas for expressing ideas and concepts that are personally significant,” says Fennell. “These are manifested through patterns derived from nature, mathematics, architecture and the interplay of energy and movement.”

Sourcing a wide variety of wood from around the globe, the artists create with materials including African blackwood, acacia, redwood burl, tomillo, camphor, Chakte Viga, East Indian rosewood and cocobolo. Many also use exclusively downed and damaged trees in a mindful effort toward conservation. Some rely on a single block for their completed work, while others integrate foreign materials such as pigment, inlay, gilding, pencils and recycled skateboards.

Walnut Vessel. John Jordan, artist

Walnut Vessel. John Jordan, artist

“My exhibited work plays off my observations as a beekeeper,” says Robert Lyon. “In one piece, pencils in cross-section are grouped together to take on random patterns and in another I’ve experimented with encasing, sawing and splitting pencils and their erasers.”

An interesting element of the exhibit is the variety of backgrounds, styles and techniques of the artists. Masters of their craft display work alongside emerging artists, and those who were trained by previous generations of woodworkers beside those self-trained by consequence.

“For me, there was no conscious choice to work with wood,” says exhibiting artist John Jordan. “It’s just the way my life developed. There are endless possibilities for wood objects when in the hands of talented artists/makers.”

The exhibit also includes work by Christian Burchard, Jim Christiansen, Andy DiPietro, Cindy Drozda, Robyn Horn, Todd Hoyer, Arthur Jones, Stoney Lamar, Alain Mailland, Hal Metlitzky, Harvey Meyer, Matt Moulthrop, Philip Moulthrop, Pascal Oudet, George Peterson, Michael Peterson, Betty Scarpino, Brad Sells, Curt Theobald and Hans Weissflog.

Blue Spiral 1 Gallery is located at 38 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit or call 828.251.0202.

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