By Henry K. Long
Artist Ray Ford has been carving wood for eighty-seven years. He received a pocket knife when he was just five years old. This was during the depression and dust bowl years. His father was a poor sharecropper in the Texas Panhandle. Ford learned quickly how to carve his own toys…and the rest is history.
Now he is well known artist and has earned his reputation. At 92 years old, he is still creating original works on a weekly basis. Ford can turn a simple piece of wood into a one-of-a-kind sculpture. However, creating a work of art from a slab of wood is a long term commitment. He first prepares the wood on the lathe, then it is stored to dry out (this can take over a year). He will return to the piece and put it back on the lathe, and after burning, carving, he finally decorates the outside, adding many coats of clear lacquer. Sanding is the final step to creating an original hand crafted sculpture.
Ford has never stopped growing as an artist and continues to learn new techniques. He said he loves the process of figuring out new ways to create. In the past few years, he added the Lichtenberg technique to his repertoire. Also called fractal burning, the use of electricity produces a different type of result.
The death of his wife in December 2016 has not stopped Ford from continuing his journey. He said, “I like to keep busy.” Each day he arrives at his studio, just outside his house in Venice to start anew. He loves to try new techniques, and even belongs to a Facebook group of wood carvers. Time is never a consideration while creating these unique beautiful sculptures. He admits at his age, he does have his limitations, but he has learned to work around them.
Ford’s sculptures have been sold across the globe. The artist has exhibited in LA galleries such as Ivan Gallery, Blue 7 Gallery, Fab-Gallery, and the Santa Monica Art Studios. He also continues to sell works online.
You can view Ford’s work at bG Gallery on December 14th from 12-5 pm, during the Bergamot Station Winter Open House and 25th Anniversary Celebration Event. Ford has exhibited his art at bG Gallery in the past, and added that he was looking forward to exhibiting works at the new gallery space at Bergamot Station. Gallery Director Om Bleicher said he is happy to have Ford back at the gallery. “He is an inspiration to any artist under the age of 90,” said Bleicher who purchased some of Ford’s sculptures for his own family. Bleicher added, “He has a good variety of giftable works. I was able to find something for a lot on my list.” To find out more about the art of Ray Ford, visit his website at http://hrayford.com/
bG Gallery (A-2) is located in the A building of the famed arts center Bergamot Station, (2525 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica, CA, 90404). Visit the website at http://www.santamonica.bgartdealings.com/