Friday, September 24, 2010

THINK LONG ISLAND FIRST store opens October 7th

We are pleased to announce
Thursday, October 7th 
2 pm to 9 pm

The Think Long Island First store is located inside Buckingham Variety Store at 36 Audrey Avenue in historic Oyster Bay.

Our guest for the day will be artist Harry Wicks, wood turner from Cutchogue, who will present his works starting at 5 pm.

The store carries goods made on Long Island - wood turned objects, pottery, photography, knits, jewelry, jam & jellies, soaps, honey and more.

Please join us in celebrating the skill, talent, and resourcefulness of Long Island artists and craftsmen.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Harry Wicks, uncovering beauty in wood

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
A lot has been written about Harry Wicks, wood turner from Cutchogue, and about his work. Harry himself, at times a magazine editor, produced six books, some for large companies, some published under his name. Harry's website is a good source of information and includes many photos of his work.

Native Long Islander from a farming family that settled in Western Nassau and Queens in early 19th century, Harry cannot recall any artists among his ancestors. He obtained a degree in graphic illustration from the Pratt Institute, one of the best art schools in the country. In his professional life in carpentry, furniture making, and publishing, he created many prototypes and designs, and participated in countless projects. Harry eventually discovered wood turning, taught himself the turning and varnishing techniques, stocked his workshop, and decided to devote all his creative powers to it.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
On our two visits to Harry's workshop we were welcome by classical music blasting full steam. Harry has the music on to muffle the sound of his tools and the hum of air purifiers. The sequence of compositions, either classical or jazz, is carefully planned by Harry to match his mood, his energy level and the energy of the piece with which he works. Harry will frequently stop just to listen to a particular passage; Puccini may bring his work day to an end, as after hearing his music nothing more can be added in any medium.

We have talked about the analogy of silence in music to an empty space in a vessel. Both are significant and, when used properly, enormously effective. You will see this principle applied in many works of Harry.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Harry turns both dry and green wood. He will start by taking a piece of wood, will draw an initial sketch, study the wood, work it and then adjust the original design as he uncovers layers in the wood - sometimes problems, more often nice surprises.

He may turn a perfectly finished piece, geometrically complete, so to speak, and classical in form, where exact shape of wood is well under control. He may also allow the wood's qualities to take over the piece, let bark with its rugged contour become a design element, a bit like improvisation or rubato in music. There is beauty and harmony in both approaches.

He likes working with fruit wood, his sources are more often local than otherwise. Part of his work comes from clients who commission Harry to create pieces from a recently fallen or felled tree of historical or emotional significance to the clients. It happens that some trees are too diseased to be used, but there are many happy endings. Circle of Mercy series was one of such successful and meaningful projects, created for Our Lady of Mercy Academy, a school attended by one of Harry's granddaughters.

Listen to Harry talk about his work and present a few of his pieces.

It is sometimes said that shoemakers' wives go barefoot. We are pleased to say Harry's lovely and supportive wife does not fall into the above category. Harry, with the help of his sons, built the house where the couple now lives. Most furniture and many ornamental and utilitarian objects were made by Harry. How much more 'made on Long Island' one can get?

Harry can be reached at 631.734.5738.

Latest update - June 25th 2011

Harry Wicks revisited

Harry Wicks, woodturner-artist from Cutchogue, has been rather busy in the months that passed since we have interviewed him last. Among other projects, he developed new styles of candlesticks and lamps, perfectly utilitarian but very artistic. He also worked with wood from a black locust and a copper beech which were very dear to us. The slideshow below includes examples of his latest pieces (photos courtesy of Harry Wicks).

Harry's son shot a nice video of Harry in his studio, with further examples of the recent work plus a presentation of various stages of the creative process:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Thomas Michael Malloy, sculptor in iron and steel

After an early period of watercolors and pastels, Thomas Michael Malloy devoted all his creative powers to metal sculpture. He says, "it feels real" and then adds with a smile "not only because of cuts and burns" (... one acquires while working with sharp metals and welding tools). Metal sculpture is where his natural gifts come through - the ideas, the keen observation (all Tom's sculptures are representational), the sense of proportion, and, his great sense of humor.

Thomas Michael Malloy
His workshop is like a candy store for any artist or tinkerer. Metal parts of old machinery, tools of various industries, decorative metal objects are everywhere you look. His own backyard, a nicely maintained garden, displays a collection of his sculptures - an owl, crow, mad pianist, angel with a trumpet, moon, horses, even a rhinoceros. Since his sculptures are intended for outdoors, Tom applies a protective coating over them. Even with that, many sculptures develop a green patina or a rich rusty color. They seem in place at any time of the year.

(Click the image above to view photos of Tom's work.)

What comes first, an idea of a sculpture followed by a search of appropriate metal parts to match the idea or, vice versa, a found object (Tom has a substantial collection of these) which inspires Tom to create a particular sculpture? Apparently both equally. In the following clip, Tom draws a sketch of a horse and a shovel bird. This is an example of the former approach - idea first, parts later.

During our conversation I have asked Tom to imagine a sculpture that would represent Long Island. His first thought was that it should be a fish to follow the general shape of the island. Then he thought for a moment longer and decided that he would prefer the sculpture to represent a tractor to reflect Long Island's farming past. An interesting choice.

Tom is a colorful person, from his twinkling eyes to his dashing blue hat (it was the first thing I noticed about him; the hat is not just a mere fashion statement - it comes with the expected protection from the rain and sun but also with enough room for air to circulate under the fabric; apparently this was a design preferred by engineers of old; Tom had prudently stashed them while the caps were still available) and a "Romeo y Julieta" cigar ("burns well and tastes good").

Tom's website carries additional information about Tom and many photos of his work. The man himself you can find at his lawn mowing repair shop at 30 Station Plaza in Glen Head, phone: 516.676.3636.