I started making pottery in 1998 at Rogue Community College in Grants Pass, Oregon. Discovering that I had the power to create, I believed that anything my mind could dream up, my hands could build. With ceramics as my anchor, I began to explore other art forms. Painting, sculpture, woodworking, carpentry, and welding all found their way into my life.
In 2001, I moved to Arcata, California, where I began work on my bachelor’s degree at Humboldt State University. Most of my time was spent in the ceramics department. As my functional pottery became more consistent and refined, my imagination led me to explore the sculptural side of ceramics as well. The facility itself was big and expansive. Thirty-gallon trashcans filled with glaze, gas kilns big enough to hold huge works of art, and a vibrant atmosphere contributed to my growing awareness that anything was possible. I began to stack pots and bottle shapes and see them grow into interesting works of art. Their precarious balance gave viewers a sense of surprise and wonder. I watched as people become engaged with my work and had my first taste of the way sculpture can affect those who see it.
I continued in the honors ceramics program at Humboldt for two years after graduating. During that time, I also became a full-time carpenter, learning to build homes from the ground up. Our small crew was hands-on in every phase of construction. We were truly crafting homes by hand. Carpentry became an extension of the artful life I had been living, and the houses themselves became vast sculptures. I started my days at six a.m. in the ceramics studio, throwing, trimming, and glazing pots, and started building houses at eight. Through carpentry, I learned that most projects required the mastery of a wide range of skills and the ability to solve problems on the fly. Technical ability, attention to detail, and a keen sensitivity to the subtlety of shape and form have allowed my work to grow, in scale and impact, across all mediums.
Returning to Oregon in 2006 with my wife, Bonni, I set up a small ceramics studio in our unheated garage and continued making pots in my free time. Establishing myself as a freelance carpenter, I found an eager clientele, and it was in this role that I first met artists Lilli Ann and Marvin Rosenberg, founders of Art for Public Spaces, who would become my dear friends and mentors.
Small carpentry projects for the Rosenbergs led to large landscaping projects and soon evolved into assisting with and eventually partnering with them on public art projects. Working with them, I became proficient in many of their techniques, which they had been perfecting for over fifty years. Lilli Ann taught me to make and glaze tiles, prepare the cement, and create the forms that would hold them. From her, I learned how to work with clients, to develop a concept, and to see that concept through all phases of construction. I learned through them how to create durable works of art that, beyond their visual impact, can also be walked on climbed on and touched. Lilli Ann and Marvin encouraged me apply for my own public art projects, and, as I began to develop my own body of work, their style found a permanent place in my own artistry.
I now work out of my own home studio in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley. I created a space that supports all forms of my artwork, from tile and cement sculpture, to pottery, welding, and woodwork. My primary focus is on art for public enjoyment. Public art can transform a space into a thriving public area, creating a sense of place that belongs to anyone who comes by. Placing my work out in the world for others to enjoy and interact with has brought me great joy, and strengthens the community for all of us.