, , , , , ,



Concord-based artist and curator brings internationally recognized turned wood sculptures to Gantt Center.

Concord resident Charles Farrar enjoys an unabashed love affair with wood.

An acclaimed wood turner, he works wooden “blanks” using a lathe, hand tools, and a sophisticated finishing process to create museum quality art.

“It’s very much a tactile experience for me,” Farrar explained about his infatuation with the medium. “Wood begs to be touched and felt and caressed. It’s not just colors but aromas as well capturing my attention.

He’s best known for hollow vessels with ornate finials and fluted bowls with near glass-like high gloss appearance. His recent “hammered wood” series features deep naturally colored vessels richly textured with dimples resembling honeycomb patterning.

Farrar’s preferred medium is maple indigenous to the Carolinas. “I like to work with Box Elder Maple, Sugar Maple and specialize with woods that have burls, knots, and irregular grain patterns,” said Farrar, “These woods have character and voice.”

Farrar, 69, is a sought out speaker and educator, teaching classes in wood art at the John C. Campbell Folk School and the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. His work has been exhibited throughout the U.S. and is held in many collections including Bank of America, the Danville Museum of Fine Art, the David Geffen Playhouse, The White House, and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Fire-breathing Dragon

“When I was 12 years old,” Farrar recalled, “I found a three foot piece of heavily weathered wood I imagined being a fire-breathing dragon. This piece of wood held a place of honor as a cherished art piece in my parent’s home for more than 30 years and I have a remnant of that ‘dragon’ to this day.”

Farrar’s fascination with wood as an art form blossomed in the late-80s after he acquired his first piece of turned wood from Cashiers, NC artist David Goines.  “I became hooked and Goines was kind enough to share his process with me and show me how he worked,” Farrar said. “The same day I’d visited his studio in the mountains I stopped off at Sears, purchased a small lathe and some hand tools and spent more than $800 – a great deal of money at the time.”

The investment paid off  as Farrar turned his hobby into a vocation, extensively researching the emerging field of wood turning, befriending internationally recognized experts in the field, and creating his own highly sought after work.

“I met Charlotte gallery owner B. E. Noel in 1996 and held my first solo exhibition at her gallery in 1997,” said Farrar, who retired from a corporate management career with Bell South 2 years earlier.

Shaping the Vessel: Mascoll + Samuel

Not merely content to show his own work, however Farrar has great interest in bringing the beautiful work of others to the forefront. Last year, he approached David Taylor, president and CEO of the Harvey B. Gantt Center of African American Arts + Culture, about exhibiting the work of two preeminent word turners, John Mascoll and Avelino Samuel.

These internationally recognized artists, each hailing from the Caribbean Islands, are long known to Farrar as friends and colleagues. He saw the Gantt Center as a wonderful platform to showcase their work and bring wood art onto a prestigious stage.

The Farrar-curated exhibition, “Shaping the Vessel: Mascoll  + Samuel,” opened in July at the Gantt Center and features 10 intricate pieces from each artist as well as 4 selected works by Farrar.

“It was really a no-brainer,” said Taylor, commenting on the decision to hold this exhibition. “The work is world class and captivates all who experience it. We’re in conversations with other cultural institutions across the U.S. interested in hosting the exhibit after we close in January of 2017.”

Visitors to the exhibit are taken by the intricate level of detail, enhanced natural beauty of the exotic woods used and the vibrancy of color and texturing, in many cases simulating that of fine ceramics.

“I’m very excited to show their work here,” said Farrar. “There is no such exhibition of this quality and magnitude anywhere in the U. S. People need to came and experience this stunning work.”