Fred Cogelow: Statements in Wood, Wilmar MN

Fred Cogelow: Statements in Wood, Wilmar MN

Fred Cogelow’s success comes
from being a self-described contrarian. With wood as his medium, the Willmar, Minnesota native blends patience,
skill, and humor to create
his award-winning sculptures. [acoustic guitar plays
smooth swing-jazz] I think some people are just
made to use their hands, and I kind of was always
drawn to wood and tools. This was meant to be my refuge. People drive me nuts; I love
’em, but they drive me nuts! (woman) Fred’s work is really multifaceted. It’s high quality, it’s interesting material, he’s a well-known Minnesota artist, he’s capturing an everyday life in a very hyperrealistic way. People really see
the high skill that’s involved, so they can appreciate it
on kind of a skill level as well as an aesthetic level. (Fred)
Instead of taking something
like clay, where you have both the option of putting it on and taking it off readily, with wood you take your material
and you pretty much remove it. My father died when I was
quite young, but he left a fairly well-equipped shop,
so I was out there quite often trying to kill myself doing
bad things with a table saw. Working with disturbed adolescents, I had to do one week
of night watch every six weeks. After you did your rounds,
you main job was to stay awake, and there was a block of wood there that one of the kids had started
carving on and had given up
after rounding a corner, and I thought
I couldn’t do any worse, so I went and I took it
and came back the next night with some of my father’s carving tools, his palm chisels, and I was off to the races. They’re traditional edged tools. They tend to be gouges
of various sorts, and a gouge basically,
just a U shape and then there’s your V tools,
and then your flat tools, which are your chisels,
your firmers, and your skews. I designed a number of tools that were manufactured
for a while, and I would say designed
rather than invented, ’cause basically
you modify existing forms. I do photographic studies
if it’s a realistic thing, but I don’t do any modeling
in clay or anything else. I don’t see the point of that;
I figure why do something twice. If I don’t know what I want in some particular spot of
a composition, I’ll oftentimes leave a little extra wood there as I’m roughing things out in case something occurs to me
as I’m doing it. So some of the design is
usually on the fly. This thing is titled, “Don’t Look Like Much of
a Horse,” and the subtitle is, “Yeah,
You Ain’t No
Cowpoke Neither.” And it’s my tribute
to my late brother. It’s an experiment
in deep relief. Rules in relief are basically that you try to use as much of the actual depths available as possible for the most important elements and the foreground elements, and that you try not
to have the eye object. When you’re carving from a log, you’re problem is,
the moisture is such that you need to get rid of wood
as fast as possible, otherwise it’ll all split. The only stable way I know of doing it is to hollow them out. The face is sort of
like a landscape, and ya’ try to follow
the contours of it. I’m just trying to
cheat that line of the lip up just that little bit. Go back and modify this again when it’s all said and done. I have more lumber
than I’ll probably use in… if I live to be 400 years old, but yet I have this compulsive acquisition disorder, and I can’t pass up a good lumber tree
of some sort or other. People are fond of referring to me as a master woodcarver, and I’m really not
because I’m not adept at a lot of the furniture
carving and decorative arts. There are even a lot of weaknesses in my human figures. The main thing is I try to get enough feeling and character. At least people seem
to relate to them somehow. It would be a mistake
to underestimate Fred by saying it’s kind of almost
a pedantic rural craft, or something that’s
just only about tradition. With the humor, and the politics that are in the work, it’s actually quite sophisticated. (Fred) With carvings, it’s
a lot like getting married. You don’t realize the full extent of your commitments until you’re well into it. You have to live up
to your commitments or else it’s a messy divorce.

10 thoughts on “Fred Cogelow: Statements in Wood, Wilmar MN

  1. Wow! I had never ever hear about Mr. Cogelow and his carvings, but I would like to hear and know more! 
    Amazing carvings!!!

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