For 35 years, Dennis Ruane has made his living shaping wood. His intricate spoons and wooden bowls “ensure the bills are always paid” allowing him the winter low season to work on bigger sculptures and further explore his medium. His pieces are known for their soft, silky finish, which he achieves with many coats of high quality polyurethane in between sandings with paper and steel wool. Because Dennis uses so much wood he obtains whole trees – leading to some abstract pieces. “I look for interesting areas of the tree and see what it can become.” Website: www.dennisruane.com
Cabins intrinsically have a sense of place. And part of that essence comes from the items we select to beautify our spaces. Handcrafted creations bring with them a special sense of locality.
Following is a collection of rustic art from craftspeople of the Southeast. This region gives us richly inspired design, pulling from the Atlantic coast, the Smoky Mountains and all points in between.
Heather Knight Clay Artist | Asheville, N.C.
Heather Knight describes her foray into her distinctive clay style as an evolution from complicated stains to appreciating the art within the plain white porcelain. She credits her coastal travels in the Southeast for her “beachy” style, including her urchin bowl pinch pots and organic textured tiles. “I also incorporate items I find on hikes in the woods, like magnolia pods, pine cones and flowers. I pull from all over,” says Heather.
Jim Kane Wooden Chairs | Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.
Jim Kane was a math teacher for 35 years when he started making cypress furniture for himself and a couple of neighbors. He took the traditional style of Adirondack chairs as a leaping off point. “People told me that wooden chairs aren’t comfortable for long and hard to get out of,” says Jim who was inspired to create a better design. After three months of research and trial and error, he started applying his advanced math to change the back and arms of his wood chairs for comfort and ease of exit. “I even used trigonometry to figure out some of the cuts,” says Jim. “Now people sit down and within four seconds they say, ‘ohhhhh.’” Website: www.coolchairs.net
Dan Goad Painting | St. Simons Island, Ga.
Dan Goad gathers the inspiration for his watercolors from his home on a small island off the coast of Georgia and his adventures in North Carolina. Known for his use of vivid color combinations and precise depictions of wildlife, Dan’s artistry was influenced by his time living in Bali. He has also been honored with a commission for the White House Art Collection at the Smithsonian. Website: www.summerhousehighlands.com
Pam Goode Mosaic | Charlotte, N.C.
The art medium of mosaic draws Pam Goode because, ironically, “it’s both difficult and time-consuming.” She enjoys the challenge of the hard, unforgiving materials that are entirely handcut to fit and later affixed one-by-one. “It lends a meditational aspect to the art,” says Pam. Because mosaic is intrinsically an image created from parts, it invites close examination. “My subjects are varied, but my aim remains fairly focused: to broaden the viewer’s perception. I might set out to accomplish this through introspection or laughter,” says Pam, “but my hope is always to encourage a deeper experience of life.” Website: www.wildhairmosaics.com
Marilyn Sparks Painting | Cumming, Ga.
For Marilyn, painting was an unexpected second career after she retired from the fashion industry. “I had never painted in my life, and after I retired thought, Now, what’s next?” She started with some leftover house paint and a piece of canvas on the floor. Now she uses an easel and oil paints to bring life to the barns from her rural Tennessee youth. “Old barns are part of my heritage and they’re disappearing,” says Marilyn, who considers them “soul food that can take us away to better times.” Website: www.marilynsparks.com
Paula Jones Rustic Twig Furniture | Highland, N.C.
After teaching art at the University of Georgia, Paula was inspired by some rustic furniture she and her husband stumbled across in an abandoned cabin. After some dabbling, she was shocked to have an order for 100 chairs! The business took off and now has expanded into a gallery she runs with her husband. The Summer House in Highland, N.C., sells not just her furniture, but also the creations of many artists of the Southeast. Website: www.summerhousehighlands.com