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BARRY BIESANZ

b. 1948 New Orleans, LA

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

2012 Turned Wood – Small Treasures, del Mano - A Gallery of Fine Contemporary Craft, LLC,

delmano.com

2004 Beneath The Bark: 25 Years of Woodturning, Brigham Young University Museum of Art,

Provo, UT

1994 The Language of Wood, Colombian Center, New York, NY

Glendeven Gallery, Little River, CA

1993 Taipei International Exhibition of Traditional Arts and Crafts, Taipei Fine

Arts Museum, Taiwan

White Bird Gallery, Cannon Beach, OR

1992 Eastern Shore Art Center, Fairhope, AL

1990 Latin America Craft Exhibit, Paris, France

1989 Turned Wood, Invitational woodturning show, Hoffman Gallery, Portland, OR

1986 Caribbean Basin Craft Show, White House, Washington, D.C.

1985 Tokyo Trade Fair, Tokyo, Japan

1984 Barry Biesanz, US - Costa Rica Cultural Center, Escazú, Costa Rico

1983 Artesania en Madera: Barry Biesanz, Museo Plaza de la Cultura, San José,

Costa Rica

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

2004 Beneath The Bark: Twenty-Five Years of Woodturning. Christensen, Kip & Nish, Dale. Utah Woodturning Symposium, Inc, Provo, UT.

1995 The Dallas Morning News, July

American Association of Woodturners, September

1992 La Nacion, shopping section, September

1990 International Woodworking, cover story, winter

1987 New York Times, August

ARTIST STATEMENT

What are the bowls about?  Fractals and attention.

This will take some background... I take as a given that all things are connected, making a complex pattern out of simple elements that are linked on many levels, most of which are not perceptible, and some which call for a higher level of development of the perceiver.  I am not there, by the way!  

But I do look for shapes which reflect another level, think of the Neo-platonic idea that all that is relative in this world exists also in a perfect, Absolute form.

Fractals are natural patterns that repeat on different levels: the jagged edges of grains of sand, and a mountain range.  When I make a good curve on a bowl and it breaks, each part still has a nice curve.

The graph expression of a fractal equation is a beautiful curve, and I think of the curves as expressing, cal it a fractal equation, or An Underlying Truth.

Hogarth talked of the Line of Beauty, though what he drew was awful, but he was thinking about something along these lines, I think.

 

When I'm turning, it's not about me, it's about the piece, and the attention and time it needs.  And I set aside the fear of breaking it or getting hurt.

There is a Sufi tradition that objects made with attention retain a certain virtue, baraka, as a result.  Wood, wool, brass, and clay are thought (or perceived!) to be especially suitable for this.

I try and keep ego out of it, and competitiveness. I get more pleasure out of selling a piece to a first -time craft buyer than to a collector.  Looking at your webpage, the works by Bert Marsh and John Jordan are fantastic and admirable, but it's  different, I just turn shapes that feel right and look for harmony.

Originality for it's own sake doesn't interest me.

One example of finding a god shape through harmony is how one makes the cuts.  I shift my weight and rotate my body, with little arm movement, and it feels indistinguishable from Taichi.

Some turners that I admire are Bob Stocksdale, Del Stubbs, Jordan and Marsh, among others...but especially Bob, with his Quaker simplicity.

Books by Idries Shah of Sufism, The Gift by Lewis Hyde, Art and Fear, The Unknown Craftsman, and the books of David Pye, like the Nature and Art of Workmanship have been major influences.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Years ago, as a beginning craftsman, Biesanz concentrated on designing and creating "one-of-a-kind" pieces of furniture that took months of painstaking work before a chair ever graced a dining room or a table decked a salon. His products have since evolved into small decorative items that maintain the exacting standards of his furniture. These objets d'art demand the same design skills, but allow many to be produced in the same time it once took to create a single piece of furniture.

Influenced by the fluidity and grace of Japanese tea bowls, Biesanz is intrigued by the fact that these bowls never lose their integrity, although they are produced in huge quantities. It is this agelessness that he strives for in his own works, "not," he said, "to rely on market trends or name, but to be ageless." In a dream Biesanz came up with what he thinks is a "coherent art philosophy" reflecting his own goals. Briefly he explained, "Edges should be rounded and asymmetrical, reflecting natural and mathematical orders. My objects must feel good in the hand and should be complete both inside and out. A good piece should, upon closer inspection, be better than originally perceived." Lofty ideals, but achievable? By all means, yes! When visitors to his Bello Horizonte factory and showroom touch Biesanz's artwork, their sigh of appreciation is audible. The glossy smoothness of a box lid or the swirls of the inner shell of a bowl are positively sensual. Holding a Biesanz creation to the light inspires a sense of wonder, as a translucent glow shines through the paper-thin wood. Grains are amplified, and swirls, knots, and marks left from fungi become beautiful abstract patterns.

All of Costa Rica's exotic woods are represented in Biesanz's work, but his favorites are the gnarly logs of fallen trees right in his own neighborhood. Local farmers sell their dead trees to Biesanz and have, through the years, become a reliable source for interesting pieces. Scavenged "road wood" also becomes a treasured part of the inventory.

Today, Barry Biensanz's bowls and boxes can be found in the collections of assorted European royalty and three US presidents.

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