By Jessica Tuggle
SEBASTIAN -- Cranes, cardinals, dolphins and dogs and even Abraham Lincoln will be on display at the Sebastian River Art Club's art center all this month.
Intricately carved works by experienced woodworker Joe Miller, president and founder of the Indian River Woodcarver's Club, will be highlighted during the "Woodcarvers' Show." The free opening reception is set for May 11 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and will include refreshments.
"The exhibit will be on display through May 30 and will also include works by other woodworkers, including Francesca Pratten, Paul Whelan and Danny Bell," Mr. Miller said.
Some of the art on display will reflect the wildlife seen here in Indian River County, including a small replica of an alligator, while others will be inspired by fantastical creatures, including a dragon.
Mr. Miller has always enjoyed walking and hiking, and he would often find a piece of wood, a tree branch to sand down and turn into a walking stick to help him on his journey, but a trip to Yosemite National Park in 2000 and an encounter with "The Knotty Old Man" completely changed Mr. Miller's outlook on wooden art.
"Just outside Yosemite National Park I met a man who carved wood spirits, their faces, into tree knots. And from there I just started doing faces and other carving," Mr. Miller said.
Many of the pieces in the exhibit have the influence of his colleague, Ms. Pratten's, specialties, wood burning and an art process called Zentangle.
Painting and wood burning can turn an ordinary carving into an extraordinary piece, Ms. Pratten said.
Wood burning can help a work have more texture and natural color variations to enhance the piece, she said.
Zentangle is a newer art form that involves small artistic designs, usually done in pen and ink but can be done as a wood burning design, that are both complicated and simple, Ms. Pratten said.
"If you can make a comma, a period, a slanted line, you can tangle," she said.
The art form is inherently meditative and when people are working on their tangles, "they focus on what they are doing and all the world around just goes away," Ms. Pratten said.
One of the pieces in the exhibit with a Zentangle is a small purse.
Wooden walking sticks with all kinds of interesting toppers will also be featured in the exhibit, Mr. Miller said.
The Indian River Woodcarvers' Club creates personalized walking sticks for veterans to commemorate and recognize their service.
Some of the walking sticks on display have creative toppers, including serpents, dogs, horses and eagles heads.
"Wood carving is not too expensive of a hobby to get started in," Mr. Miller said.
Currently, Mr. Miller teaches woodcarving classes at his studio in Fort Pierce, located in the basement of Art Mundo.
He said he would love to start some carving classes in Sebastian.
"Individuals can indicate their interest at the woodcarver's exhibit this month," Mr. Miller said.
For more information about the Sebastian River Art Club and current exhibits, visit http://www.artcenter-srac.blogspot.com.