"Wood has become my voice and my language. Over years spent making things both useless and usefull, the physical work of sawing, carving, turning, and polishing has become my contemplation. The real effort is in figuring out what to make next. Sometimes the wood itself makes a suggestion. Sometimes I work just to keep my hands occupied. And sometimes... it all comes together in a kind of wooden poem."
To build a vessel, Bauermeister stacks and glues together layers of wood, hollowing out the inside as he goes. He then sculpts the whole thing into a free-form shape, or turns it on a lathe if he wants it perfectly round, or uses power tools to cut away sections if he’s making an openwork piece. He’ll then gouge and carve the surface by hand, creating pattern and texture out of countless tool marks: “I like the energy that went into the making of the piece to be visible.”
Finally, depending on the look he’s going for – grainy or smooth, variegated or solid, translucent or opaque, muted in color or highly saturated – Bauermeister will sand, paint, stain, lacquer, and polish as needed. The process is laborious and takes lots of time (just how much, he “couldn’t estimate and probably wouldn’t want to know”), but some 20 years on, it still gives him endless creative satisfaction. His wood sculptures capture the wonders of the natural world he loves: pebbles on the shore, a twist of vines, that first exuberant burst of growth in spring. Waves of grain, ripples on the water, and canopies of leafy tree branches come to life on the soulful surfaces of his carved vessels and wall panels and seem almost to move if you gaze long enough. Their rich colors range from forest greens and the deep browns of fertile soil to orangey golds and yellows so citrusy you can practically taste them.
These are works about land, specifically the Missouri River bottoms, a flat expanse of corn and soybean fields, big skies, and long horizons. It’s where Bauermeister (the name, fittingly, means “master farmer” in German) has lived, worked, and taken much of his inspiration since 1987, in the rural town of Augusta, Missouri.
Minneapolis College of Art and Design 1975-76
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture-Kansas City Art Institute, 1979
Smithsonian Museum, Renwick Gallery, Washington D.C.
Boston Museum of Art, Boston, MA
Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI
University of Michigan Museum, Ann Arbor
Mesa Museum of Contemporary Art, Mesa AZ
Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton MA
United States State Department Art In Embassies program
Princeton Medical Center, New Haven, CT
Ron and Anita Wornick
Arthur and Jane Mason
American Craft, June/July 2013, cover and 8 page article
Woodturning, May, 2013, cover and 6 page article
The Arts Live, Spring 2013, cover and 6 page article
St. Louis Homes and Lifestyles, September 2016
Wood Art Today 2 by Jeffery Snyder, Schiffer Publications 2010
Masters-Woodturning, by Jim Christianson, Lark Books 2009
500 Wood Bowls by Ray Leier and Jan Peters, Lark Books, 2004
Wood Art Today by Dona Meilach, Schiffer Publications 2003
Scratching the Surface by Michael Hosaluk, North Light Books 2002