Tom Hawley and Doug Fiely exhibit at the Springs Gallery
By Jud Yalkut
Two Ohio artists, Tom Hawley and Doug Fiely, with fanciful realizations in their respective mediums, are displaying their creations at the Springs Gallery in Yellow Springs through Dec. 14. In this unique encounter, we see the decorative wood crafting of Hawley with his clock configurations and bowls balanced against the acrylic paintings and fine art prints of Fiely.
Tom Hawley is a resident of Yellow Springs who received a bachelor’s degree in environmental design from Miami University in 1980, was an adjunct professor of Color Theory and Photoshop at Wright State University (2004-05), and was the art director of Ohio Magazine (1983-85) with an award for best magazine cover from the Regional Publishers Association. As a graphic designer turned woodworker, he has produced sculptural works on the theme of flight that also embody clock mechanisms, providing a surreal take on functional art.
Hawley fabricates his wood pieces preferably from trees that have already fallen.
“I prefer to keep the healthy trees upright,” he has written, “so the materials I use are usually the by-products of a storm, or a razed building.” He studies the wood initially and lets “the patterns I see in the shape and grain suggest a theme and then shape and finish to create forms that accentuate that theme.”
The simplest forms which emerge from his detailed work are the series of bowls defined by their utilitarian use, which allow Hawley to fully reveal the natural beauty of each piece of wood, all finished with numerous coats of tung oil hand-rubbed into the wood. A 15-inch diameter “Walnut Bowl” was fashioned from a large walnut tree cut down next to the Antioch School, a “Catalpa Bowl” came from a wind-felled tree uprooted in 2008 by the Frank Lloyd Westcott House in Springfield, a felled tree provided the material for a series of “Bradford Pear Bowls” with silky finishes, and a “Sycamore Bowl” was salvaged from a tree in Glen Helen ravaged by Hurricane Ike in 2008.
His “Ocufoil” series (2010) of pieces are aerofoils or hydrofoils containing an oculus (Latin for an”eye”) analogous to a lens bonded to withstand the force of a 3,000-rpm lathe, with resin cold-cast into the wood. “Ocufoil-2” was influenced by the form of a sand dollar and fabricated with bands of walnut, hickory and maple; and the long driftwood-like form of “Oculus-13” evokes a squid.
Most well-known of Hawley’s creations are his fanciful sculptural working clocks. The “Pea Clock #3” (2004) was from a series Hawley designed for his niece as a place for her to organize her colored pencils, which here form a splayed array of colored “feathers” around a Seiko quartz clock above the bird-like body. “Gandalf’s Clock” (2009) is grandfather-sized, exclusively made of Westcott House catalpa wood and inspired by Wright’s organic designs with a Seiko clock revealed only directly through a magnifying lens. Hawley’s “Flying Clocks” (2009) with wings are partly made from maple wood. “FC1” and “FC2” both have a resin, parabolic lens over the clock face; “FC2” has white maple accents in the catalpa bezel. “Flying Clock-3” is a scaled-down version, originally made for a woman as a gift to a pilot who saved his passengers, including her brother, from a plane crash caused by equipment failure.
Doug Fiely has a master’s degree in printmaking from Bowling Green State University, taught for 30 years in Ohio’s public schools, and is currently a professor of art at Defiance College. His varied work in acrylic painting as well as in ceramics is informed by his technical knowledge of the printmaking medium and his penchant for dynamic composition and forms. His spontaneous style is dictated by his belief that “the life of an artist is a careful balance between freedom and control, between chance and planning, between memory and careful observation.”
“I begin each work by applying modeling paste on the surface of the canvas,” Fiely said. “Usually working directly from observed subject matter, I begin cutting lines and texturing the semi-dried paste.” This analogy to the printmaking process is then covered by acrylic stain and the paintings are built up layer by layer.
His imagery in painting is drawn from his life experiences, friends and family, and the rural environment as in the green, sandy-white and terracotta forms of pots and vessels in “Pottery Barn” (2009); the vertical “Red Barn” (2011) with pale blue roofs, a pale gray sky, and smattering of textured birds in the foreground; and the planes of pale blue, pink, creamy yellow and green below the line of barn and village in “Ohio Summer Scape” (2011). Birds are a recurring theme particularly in his series, which includes “Summer Crows II” (2011), and his sometimes boozy vision of people is epitomized in “Tipsy” (2011), with his subject’s red hair and low-cut blue dress, arms crossed over an angled burgundy cup.
It is refreshing to see a number of Fiely’s remarkable prints in this show including: the dynamically contrasted angles of the woodcut “Grain Shacks” with its centripetal sun and deeply grooved fields; the charismatic commedia style of the “Street Players” with its checker-jacketed accordionist and ghostly mouth-harp player and the vividly autobiographical intaglio “Studio Portrait” with the musing seated artist surrounded by musicians, angelic women and a playful child in a fanciful studio.
The Springs Gallery is located in King’s Yard at 220 Xenia Ave. in Yellow Springs. Current seasonal hours are Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 7 p.m. and on the third Friday (“Fling in the Springs”) from noon to 9 p.m. For more information call the Springs Gallery at (937) 409-5047 or visit www.springsgallery.blogspot.com. More of Fiely’s work can be seen on the first and third Friday of each month through Dec.18 from 5-9 p.m. and “Second Look Saturday” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Visceral Gallery, 1105 Central Ave., in the Pendleton Art Center in Middletown. For more information on the Visceral Gallery, call (937) 409-0069.
Reach DCP freelance writer Jud Yalkut at JudYalkut@DaytonCityPaper.com.