Michael Peterson: Evolution/Revolution: Bold Wood Sculptures Inspired by the Pacific Northwest

Posted December 23, 2009 in Press Releases

Next spring, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft presents Michael Peterson: Evolution/Revolution, an exhibition of elegant and bold wood sculptures by the Texas-born artist. The show will be on view in the small gallery from March 27 – July 2, 2010.Following the unique trajectory of wood sculptor Michael Peterson over the past 20 years, Evolution/Revolution traces the evolution from the artist’s early lathe-turned bowls to his current revolutionary sculptures, which are devoid of the lathe. Over 30 sculptures, inspired by the geographic environment of the Pacific Northwest, will be on view.

Turning, carving, sandblasting, bleaching and pigmenting the burl portion of trees, such as madrone, maple, grass tree, elm and locust, Peterson creates sculptural works of sheer beauty and purity. He starts with multiple wet chunks of wood, which are carved and hollowed out using chainsaws. As the pieces dry, they shrink and warp in unpredictable ways that heighten their grain patterns and create rich textures. He then smoothes the edges, and sometimes bleaches the pieces prior to layering them with multiple, subtle coats of pigments. He often wipes away these pigments to create the illusion of depth–much the same way painters do to create chiaroscuro effects. Some of the sculptures are composed of individual hollowed-out units that, when stacked vertically, are reminiscent of how waves toss driftwood into unpredictable positions on the beach.

“Evolution/Revolution honors Peterson for his organic abstract forms, including elements reminiscent of birds, stones, driftwood and landscapes–all referring to the natural, physical realm, while quietly emanating a deep sense of spirituality,” says co-curator Michael Monroe, Director of Curatorial Affairs at Bellevue Arts Museum. More than 20 of his most recent sculptures will be on display adjacent to nearly 15 earlier works consisting of lathe-turned, bowl-like forms to contrast and highlight Peterson’s artistic progression over the past 20 years.

Born in Wichita Falls, Texas, Peterson now resides on Lopez Island, one of the San Juan Islands in Washington, where he draws heavily from the surrounding environment. Peterson’s work has been featured in many solo and group exhibitions over the last 20 years and can be found in public collections throughout North America, including the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY; the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, Charlotte, NC; and the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, among others.

Michael Peterson: Evolution/Revolution was organized by Bellevue Arts Museum and co-curated by Michael W. Monroe, Director of Curatorial Affairs, and Stefano Catalani, Curator. The exhibition was made possible by the generous support of The Windgate Charitable Foundation. Additional support was provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the City of Bellevue.

Mary Headrick (mheadrick@crafthouston.org)
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
713.529.4848 x 107