Our Spotlight Artist this month is Gary Graham from Lexington, Kentucky. Gary is an exceptionally talented artist who creates beautiful forms in natural wood. He took part in the Eight Annual Lexington-Fayette County NAP Exhibit this year and was awarded both the First Place Professional and Best of Show Awards. Gary has also recently become a member of our online artist gallery.
Some of his amazing creations can be viewed through his online artist profile http://www.nationalartsprogram.org/users/gary-graham and also via his personal website www.garygrahamwoodart.com. We asked Gary to share some of his background, experience and thoughts on his unusual talents.
First of all I consider myself more of an artisan than artist. There is a small differentiation in that it is my skillsets that allow me to create what I do. I have always been interested in working with wood from early grade school when I began building soap box cars, toy trains and model airplanes. Having spent thirty plus years in the corporate world, I always managed to have a wood project or two at home in process. When I retired in the late 90’s I began to concentrate on building my skillsets. The more I would do the more fun it became. When someone refers to my pieces as my “work” I point out it isn’t work. It is fun.
My interest in art goes back to my Junior High School days in Nebraska. I had done some spatter paintings that were selected to be part of the Carnegie Scholastic Traveling Art Exhibit. That class was the last art course I ever took. Off to college and then into the corporate world.
My artistic talent is a culmination of my experience and interest. I don’t know that I discovered it rather I have always had fun working with wood and could make things that drew others interest. This has all led me to my recent focus which has been open segmented vessels (turnings) and my favorite medium is obviously wood. I must emphasize that all my stuff is natural wood. I don’t paint, stain or use paste fillers. I believe that the characteristics of the various woods speak for themselves and the medium presents boundless possibilities and challenges. Since I am retired I spend my time working at designing and fabricating segmented turnings on a full time basis.
This year was the first NAP show I have taken part in. As I recall I received an email about the NAP through the Lexington Art League. Winning the Best of Show Award—it doesn’t get any better than that, does it? Actually I am flattered and grateful that others enjoy what I do—that aspect alone makes it all worthwhile for me. It is fun and the “wows”, “amazing”, and “how did you do that” just add to the fun. Winning awards makes me want to do more and better. I always feel there are improvements to be made. My piece entitled ‘Mobiosity’ is a Mobius ribbon made from turned segments. The ribbons are a challenge in that the parameters are unforgiving and a high degree of precision is required. Again there is almost no limit as to what you can do with the form and each presents its own challenges both in the design and fabrication stages.
The most recent art exhibit I participated in was Artsplosure in Raleigh NC, where I won one of the six awards given. I have participated in art shows in Ohio and here in Kentucky where I am an exhibiting member of The Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen and a member of Kentucky Crafted which is sponsored by the State of Kentucky. It truly is an honor to be included in both of those organizations.
Primarily one should know that what I do is FUN. As new “puzzles” and challenges arise I have more fun. I am so grateful that the arts are supported by people and institutions like you---Thank you. It certainly is an honor and I know my fellow artists and artisans appreciate it also.