Work by Palisadian Artist to be Displayed in Smithsonian Renwick Gallery

Photos courtesy of John Beaver

By Brett Abrams | January 21, 2021

The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum recently acquired two pieces by Palisadian artist John Beaver to display during the museum’s 50th anniversary showcase in May 2022.

Having his artwork showcased in the Renwick Gallery—the gallery of the Smithsonian that displays art made from wood, metal, fabric, glass and ceramics—is “as big an honor as I could imagine in what I do,” Beaver said: “It’s the pinnacle of a craft artist’s career.”

After 25 years of working in Hollywood filming TV commercials, Beaver started experimenting with woodturning using a lathe he inherited. Growing disappointed with the lack of creativity he once experienced in the film industry, Beaver’s passion for woodturning only increased. The artistic process of the craft fulfilled his creative need.

Although the film industry is ostensibly dissimilar to the art of woodturning, Beaver found the transition into his new career much easier than he expected.

“Creatively, I find the two processes similar,” Beaver said. “You have an artistic vision, but you need the technical skills to accomplish it.”

Beaver originally emerged in the art community with the creation of his “wavy” design, a unique, ocean-inspired design that still remains the foundation for all of his work. Beaver credited “the rhythms and motions of waves and the mesmerizing effect it has on people” as the inspiration for his style.

When creating each individual piece of art, Beaver always tries to incorporate a “wow” factor to his finished product.

“I want people to look at the work and ask, ‘How did he do that?’” Beaver said.

Beaver described his creative process as “cutting up round objects, modifying them, manipulating them, adding elements, subtracting elements and then trying to get it all back together.” Although his technique is complicated, Beaver quickly found success in his field as his artwork introduced an unprecedented design.

Beaver’s accomplishments complement his success in the craft art community. Along with having his artwork displayed in the top wood art galleries in the country, Beaver has also been asked to teach at some of the most acclaimed woodworking schools.

Despite the fact that his routine and process remained virtually unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Beaver experienced major setbacks in the teaching aspect of his work. Beaver was scheduled to teach classes in various destinations, such as Hawaii and Australia, until the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020 canceled his plans.

Luckily, Beaver was able to successfully establish a virtual platform to teach his craft.

“It’s a huge honor to know that there’s people out there who are interested enough in what I’m doing to take a class to learn what I’ve learned,” Beaver said.

For Beaver, a chaotic year filled with various impediments and adjustments ended with the gratifying news that his work would be on display in the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian.

According to Beaver, the news that the Smithsonian acquired his work “came as complete surprise.” Beaver “didn’t know anything about it until after it happened.”

A couple local to Maryland, who own one of the most “impressive” wood art collections in the country, offered to donate some of their collection to the Renwick Gallery. Their collection includes Beaver’s work, as they have been collecting his art since the early stages of his career.

After a two-year process of studying and learning about the art in the collection, the new curators of the Renwick Gallery selected a variety of pieces to be put on display during the museum’s 50th anniversary—two of which were works created by Beaver.

Beaver claimed being a part of the anniversary show, although overwhelming, is “one of the biggest honors one could have” in the craft art field.

“What a neat letter to receive at the end of a crazy year,” Beaver concluded. “I still get chills thinking about it.”

Originally Published by The Palisadian-Post on January 21, 2021

Link to original article here

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