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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Warren Arnold - Stone Sculptor

Once Warren Arnold found a local source for soapstone in Forestville, CA, he moved from carving wood, to sculpting stone. Don’t miss the opportunity to see Warren’s upcoming shows. You can, also, see Warren’s work at Art Trails on the second and third weekends of October.

Warren Arnold
Every mass of stone is awaiting a sculptor who will release the joy it contains and bring nature and man into harmony. Nature and man in consort – each supporting the other in sustaining and creating beauty. The image is pure West Sonoma County. It is, therefore, befitting that Warren Arnold is the shaper of marble in the midst of a small farm on the south outskirts of Sebastopol. Warren Arnold did not become a part of the West Sonoma County culture by happenstance. He was teaching and living sustainability long before it became a buzzword for the Green Movement. Even while living in the urban environment of Berkeley, Warren and his wife, Maile, raised chickens, rabbits and bees as well as vegetables in rooftop boxes. He shared the lessons of living with nature in the classes he taught in Orinda for the Contra Costa County school system. He developed a nature area for students to learn first hand how to work with the environment instead of against it. He expressed his profound fascination with nature’s untold secrets through sculpture.

His dedication to sculpting began over 40 years ago with wood but once he discovered a supply of soapstone in Forestville, he was hooked on stone. Trips were taken to Sebastopol to buy apples. Sonoma County appeared to be the idyllic Eden within reach of mortals. In 1976 the couple purchased their small farm with the plan to spend weekends and summers away from their normal lives. Soon they could not go back to the confines of the city and began their not-so-normal daily lives on the farm. Over thirty years later, Warren and Maile live off of the land in a manner that was once common but has long ago gone the way of one room school houses and crank up car windows. They grow their own food including livestock, heat with firewood from their land and produce solar energy for their household needs. Pre-existing outbuildings house the hay for the animals and keep the firewood dry through the winter but most importantly provide ample studio and display space for Warren’s art.

It is clear from the urban farm in Berkeley that Warren does not have an issue with going against the tide. You might recognize his name from the controversy which rose around his Whale Project that placed a series of seven totemic sculptures along the coast of Northern California from south at Big Sur to north at Trinidad. Only six remain today and one is the hotly contested “Whale Ballet” at Doran Beach Park in Bodega Bay. But don’t expect all of his works to be whales frolicking in the waves. At each opportunity to display his sculptures, Warren picks a new theme. His fun is in doing something that has not previously been done. Arches, lovers, sunrises, sea mammals – they each have their own aura but all speak of Warren Arnold’s love of form and texture. His upcoming Labor Day Weekend venue is at the Blue Gum Farm Gallery on Hall Road. Warren, Jocelyn Audette and Hanya Popova-Parker will be showing their depictions of fragments from the coastal shore in an exhibition they have coined FRAGMENTS. The three artists draw inspiration from the same broken objects collected on beach walks and express their observations each in a different medium – stone, watercolors and oils. They have made this collaboration in the past with enthusiastic success. Warren has a completely different series, titled STORMS, planned for this October’s Art Trails.

Sonoma County benefits from Warren’s residence. He has been an instrumental personality in the yearly Sculpture Jam and was recognized for his work in 2007 with a proclamation from the Sebastopol City Council for his Leadership and Dedication to Sculpture Jam over many years. He is curator for the upcoming Ten Year Review of Sculpture at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts which will showcase the works of 13 Sonoma County sculptors. His most recent community effort is the tables and benches at the Sebastopol Skate Park which is finally poised to open.

All of these things are being propelled by the internal energy of Warren Arnold. And what did I find him doing when I came to visit? He was at the controls of his forklift with his last large chunk of Indian marble (the remains of The Whale Project) poised above a pile of pallets. 2700 pounds of stone that will be transformed into yet another polished masterpiece over the coming months. Don’t miss the opportunity to see Warren’s upcoming shows. The Blue Gum Farm Gallery is at 4787 Hall Road, Santa Rosa. Exhibit hours are Saturday, August 30, through Monday, September 2, from 1 to 5. You can, also, see Warren’s work at Art Trails on the second and third weekends of October.

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