. . .Working out of my basement shop (and sometimes outside
in the driveway where I almost lost a finger to the saw), I designed
and built furniture, getting small commissions by word of mouth.
Fortunately I realized after a year that my self taught skills and knowledge
of woodworking were in- sufficient. Lacking the funding to attend
a degree program in fine wood- working in the US, I turned to the “old
world” which was still renowned for its educational system of teaching
fine craftsmanship and moved to West Berlin, Germany.
What made you choose Germany and West Berlin?
I was very inspired by the German “Bauhaus”
tradition of combining workshop experience and extensive material
knowledge into art and design instruction, and for someone in
their late 20’s the divided city of Berlin was a unique and inspiring
environment. At that time, higher education in Germany
was sponsored by the state, so it was possible to attend a university
and cover other living expenses with part time jobs. I enrolled
in the Academy of Fine Arts, receiving my degree in interior design
in 1975. Unfortunately, in the Academy I didn’t encounter
the combination of craftsmanship and artistic design I had expected
so I turned to the time honored German apprenticeship system, working
in various woodworking shops and eventually receiving my Master
accreditation.  Armed with the traditional skills of the trade,
I then set up my own
shop in an old factory floor near the Berlin Wall in a section of
town which had been vacated by business during the Cold War and
had been inundated by artists who sought the atmosphere and low
sounds like a long journey back to the roots of your artistic
aspirations. Were you then able to utilize your accreditation and
skills as an Interior Designer and Master Cabinetmaker?
In general yes, because I now had
the ability and knowledge to undertake projects I had only dreamed
of before. But instead of taking on traditional
commissions which might have produced a steady
income, I immediately decided to venture into the world of art,
abandoning conventional rectilinear forms and beginning
to sculpt with wood. My initial pieces were large works for
children to play on, which I first exhibited in Berlin and later
in West Germany. Since the physical process of creating my art work
–sawing, jointing, planing, laminating, chain sawing,
sanding, finishing – requires many tools, I simultaneously
became a habitual visitor at junk yards and business closings, collecting
almost all of the heavy machinery and hand tools I needed. Due
to the ongoing reconstruction after the war, Berlin was an
unbelievable source for used machinery, making
it easier for me to build the physical foundation for my work
there than it would have been anywhere else.
I know that it is difficult to make a
living as an artist doing this type of work, but you stayed true
to the concept of creating Sculptured Furniture. Would this
be an accurate description of your development?
Yes, once I had the knowledge,
training and equipment to work sculpturally with
wood, I put my energy into following this path, concentrating
my efforts into creating and exhibiting my work, developing new
techniques for making sculptured furniture, and improving upon the
equipment I needed for my work. I continually deepened my
own knowledge and expanded upon the possibilities I saw in sculpting
furniture in wood. In a certain sense, “Sculptured Furniture”
became my life.
During your 25 years in West Berlin, you
exhibited extensively at shows and fairs all over Germany as
well as in Europe - almost yearly at the international furniture
and art fairs in Cologne, Munich and Milan as well contributing to
“Made in Germany” art and craft exhibits worldwide (even as an American
living in Germany!). You also received a great deal of recognition
in the media, won prizes and your name was associated by many with
“sculptural woodworking.” What made you leave all of this and
move to Escalante, UT in 1996?
of factors contributed to this. A few years before the Berlin
Wall had come down, and although this was of course a positive
development, it also brought tremendous changes to the city –
congestion, traffic, construction and rising costs.
The factory floor my wife and I had rented became unaffordable
as big business returned to the city and literally displaced many
artists. We realized that we too would have to make a major
change and for a myriad of reasons, decided to move to a rural location.
Having been fascinated on vacation trips through the southwest by the
canyon country and the possibility of a more sustainable life style,
we made the radical decision to relocate to a remote section of southern