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Written for Konk Life by EB (aka Ennid Berger)


If you’re in Key West, make time to see the beautiful and very interesting exhibition of Jeff Ware’s “Freeform Wood Sculptures,” on view at the Studios of Key West.  Hand crafted with great care and skill by Ware, the sensuous, mostly curvilinear sculptures fill the gallery with the beauty of satiny wood and invite you to touch the finished objects. The artist’s judicious use of natural looking openings in the wood enhances and lightens the forms by letting light and air flow through.  

Be sure to read the placards for each piece as they describe the local woods used in the work.  Approximately 50% sourced from Key West, the donated tree parts range from Gumbo Limbo, Cuban Mahogany, and Black Olive to Royal Poinciana.  Other, more Northern woods originated in the Ashville area, including Silver Maple and Cherry.  Ware allows each piece to dry for more than two years before he deems it ready for use.  He uses power tools to work with the dried wood, and its “imperfections.” Sometimes using cracks that occur during drying, he works with the wood’s inherent shape, its bark, its interesting wormholes and its areas of rot, chipping away until his artist’s eye is satisfied with the ultimate composition.  The work is labor-intensive, ultimately requiring seven rounds of hand-sanding to create the golden and reddish brown, smooth finishes. In particular forms, the artist chose to introduce manmade elements, adding a visual and material contrast to the organic nature of the original carving.

The artist’s amazing woodworking journey began just four years ago, in 2019.  

In March of that year, he attended “With the Grain,” the TSKW exhibit featuring national and local woodworking artists as part of the monthlong, island-wide, Tom Majors “Tribute to Wood.”  Ware said that he felt a sense of “knowing” that he could create that kind woodwork, and then he literally dreamed of creating a wooden sculpture in tribute to his father, Hugh Ware.  With the support of local wood sculptor, Perry Arnold, Jeff Ware set out to honor his father’s history with the RAF and aviation, by creating the large “sinker cypress” carving, now on a pedestal as you enter the rooftop of Hugh’s View.  This first very successful installation was the predecessor to Ware’s Freeform Wood Sculptures that he exhibits today.

Jeff Ware’s “Unpredictable Journeys,” is on view at the Second Floor Gallery of  the Studios of Key West from Feb 2-23 ,2023.

Written for Konk Life by EB (aka Ennid Berger)

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