What is Practical Art and how do you describe what you do?
Very simply, I make functional, beautiful things out of reclaimed materials.
Tell us a little about your background?
I was born in Deerborne, MI, but celebrated my first birthday in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Spent my childhood in sunny, southern Florida.
Aside from Lincoln Logs, my dad’s idea of toys was to give me a hammer and a 2×4 and tell me not to hit my brother…the 70’s were great!
My favorite classes in high school were always art classes; joined the Navy rather than go to college.
In the Navy I became a welder, then I went on to various construction work.
How did you start creating art?
I’ve always liked making things, especially art – my first art sale was a pencil drawing in high school: one of my mom’s friends commissioned it after seeing some of my work!
What drives you to create or, keeps you moving on to the next project?
I like seeing people light up when they see something they feel is beautiful… living in Tahoe made me more conscious of how much we throw out… things kind of just happened and I ended up with a workshop and a bunch of reclaimed wood and started creating. That combination, seeing people find joy in my art plus having a positive environmental impact… it’s addicting!
What inspires you?
Nature, especially in Tahoe… right now I get a lot of inspiration from the outdoors. Think of a tree in the forest… not only is it majestic and as beautiful as any piece of art, it is also home to squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. The combo of beauty and utility is everywhere in nature! Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I am blessed to live in one of the most spectacular places on the planet!
How has your practice or craft changed over time?
I used to work with glass, that was a very demanding medium. Everything always had to be just right, which drove me to attempting perfection in every project.
Looking for a rustic finish while working with wood is very liberating in comparison – I can just have fun! There is so much beauty to be found in imperfection.
Is there a piece you have created you are most proud of and why?
The cat outhouse: turning something most cat owners try to hide into something a cat owner is proud to show off to their friends, that is so cool to me! This piece really encompasses my goals and passion… creating something functional that is also attractive while lessening our carbon footprint!
Do you work on only one piece at a time?
Depends what I am making: the larger pieces like furniture are made one at a time and when I am making something for the first time, I tend to devote all my waking consciousness to it so there is no brain space for anything else.
And finally, what is your favorite part of a project?
Delivery – I love seeing the look on people’s faces when they see their finished piece.