Wood: Selections from the Permanent Collection
Wood is a sensuous material that has an inherent natural beauty. Many artists like Oscar Littlefield create their sculpture without plan or sketches; rather they allow the structure of the wood grain to guide them into revealing what was hidden in the organic material. Littlefield, like Thiel and Rowan, all reveal an intimate connection between their choosen material and the form and content of their finished pieces. Because wood is a renewable resource, readily available and relatively easy to shape, it has been used by artists and craftspeople throughout the history of the aesthetically built environment as well as for artistic and decorative purposes. Wood was often used for votive and devotional statuary evolving through the history of art into more vernacular and abstract forms like the aviary sculpture seen in this exhibit—from the owl and fledging baby bird to the graceful flamingo and more artfully abstracted bird with spread wings. Wood is appreciated for both its organic beauty and texture; it can also be stained, painted, polished, and varnished like the high sheen seen in Patrick Rowan’s Christmas Tree or mixed with other materials as in Richard Thiel’s wood and steel combination, Fortunate are the Gifted.