Artist Vic Barr’s appreciation for wood reveals itself before he says a word. It’s there in the curves of a finely turned bowl that expose and emphasize the flowing grain of a tree, in the pattern of exotic woods that loop like a space-age puzzle around the barrel of a fountain pen, and in the sheen of a table top buffed until it slips under your palm like satin.
His commitment shows, too, on a stormy night when he comes across a 80-foot tree blown down and blocking a road. He fetches his chain saw, because he knows the wood—wet and rotting in places—will have interesting patterns eaten into its flesh by insects and worms. “You have to find the stuff,” he says, relishing the memory of the windfall, before describing a tree that “bleeds internally” when wounded, turning its wood pink.
The longer you work with wood, the more you see,” he says. “I can tell how the wood grain will look before I cut into it.”
Vic discovered his affinity for wood by accident, during short-lived attempts at painting portraits and sculpting heads in clay, using his children as models. He found he enjoyed making frames, stands and easels, more than the art they were meant to display. He developed from self-taught craftsman to contemporary artist, exhibiting award-winning work in galleries and juried art shows throughout the Midwest.
There are three keys to quality, he says, whether he is creating a writing instrument, a box, a clock or a custom piece of furniture.
Precision, balance and finish—those are the keys. My perfectionist tendencies drive the execution of each piece,”
“I’m happiest in my workshop—designing a new and challenging piece, making the all the parts fit perfectly, enhancing the beauty of the wood.
“Because wood is beautiful in its own right, I don’t want to cover it, disguise it, or put it on a production line. It should express itself through me—just as I express myself through the wood.”