FEATURE: What Odysseus started for the love of a woman

Posted in Feature, Visual Art


Christine Schwager (Photos by Michael Stadler)

Whidbey Art Source editor

When considering the craft of the woodworker, think of the irrepressible love of Homer’s Odysseus, who carved a bed for his beloved Penelope into the trunk of a living olive tree. Odysseus’ love, like the hand-carved cradle on which Penelope slept faithfully for 20 years while waiting for her husband’s return, was immovable and everlasting.

Penelope’s olive tree bed was one of the first handmade  pieces of furniture found in literature. The craft of carving wood is at the very crossroads where art meets nature, and one can be certain that the love and dedication to the craft that moved the hands of Homer’s hero is present in every hand that turns the gift of a tree into a forever piece of furniture.

Gary Leake

Venture down to the Whidbey Island Woodworkers Guild’s annual show, and see some of that love and devotion carved into extraordinary pieces of wood.

“ART + Wood = Woodpalooza” at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley opens with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31. The show continues from noon to 5 p.m.  Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Sept. 1 to 3.

“Most furniture and wood-art made today is mass-produced and often designed and built for low cost, short-term use,” said Guild member and woodworker Gary Leake.

Woodpalooza offers an alternative to the throw-away products that dominate the mass-produced furniture market, Leake noted.

The pieces that will be on display at Woodpalooza are the products of mastery; detailed specimens of finely worked wood made by the craftswomen and men who make their living creating pieces that will endure with grace, history and the love that went into the making of them through the generations of a family.

Janet Lewis

These are not only artistic heirlooms that are meant to absorb the lives of the people who enjoy them, but within the hand-carved beauty of their wood offer, too, an enduring connection to nature.

“The exhibition is intended to simultaneously educate and inspire,” Leake said. “And we hope that these examples of creativity will inspire others (especially the next-generation) to aspire to consider joining us in this career.”

The Guild invites everyone to come and experience the variety of wood, the mastery of craft, the friendliness of the artists and these one-of-a-kind pieces of art.

See a list of the Woodpalooza artisans here.


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