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November 10, 2011
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Patrick McCauley: Wood and metal sculpture

Nevada City artist Patrick McCauley won his first awards for woodwork in junior high school and has been working in sculpture and design since he was 15 years old.

Receiving critical acclaim early inspired a belief that it might be possible to build a career out of what he loved to do most, creating original sculpture. Working in his father's furniture shop in the evenings, he had access to the tools he needed to create unique furniture and sculpture. He began selling his work in shops and galleries while still in high school.

After two years of independent studies in art at Moorpark College, he opened a gallery in Encino, Calif., featuring and selling his own work. It was from his exposure there that he was commissioned to design and build a 20- by 60-foot wood sculpture for a new automobile showroom in Southern California. This led to other opportunities including creating pieces for television and motion pictures.

In the early '70s, he participated several times in the prestigious Laguna Beach festival of the arts. In the late '70s and early '80s when the art market was slow, McCauley designed and produced an original furniture collection. This provided a more stable economic opportunity for the times, opened up new creative learning experiences in form and function, and provided a different perspective in the marketing and sale of his work.

After successfully developing his furniture collection he wanted to get back to more unique sculptural forms. With function still a part of his consciousness, he decided vessels would be an interesting vehicle in which to build sculpture. He started making hand-built and lathe turned bodies out of exotic woods.

Beginning with basic forms he incorporated appendage-like features in the form of legs, arms and handles sculpted cohesively with the unique grain patterns and hues of the exotic woods.

McCauley has spent 45 years creating one-of-a-kind original sculpture and winning wards at some of the most prestigious juried fine art shows in the country.

Today, McCauley continues traveling down unexplored creative paths stretching the concepts of what we perceive as a vessel. He also recently began exploring the marriage of various metals with exotic wood in Bas-relief form.

"Expressing myself through these one-of-a-kind boxes and vessels, I am able to work with the most exotic and beautiful woods from around the world incorporating their incredible natural colors and grains to compliment and enhance my ideas. All of the exotic woods I use are certified from sustainable growth forests and not in danger of extinction.

"I create each of my pieces, one at a time. All wood is solid and natural in color and grain pattern. All of the embellishments as in legs and handles are cut out by me, on a precision saw or turned on a lathe. There is no form of mass production used. I finish all my pieces with three hand-rubbed coats of a clear sealer to enhance the colors and grain and also to help protect them from atmospheric conditions. I consider each vessel a sculpture presented in a functional form."

Patrick McCauley's works will be on display at the Artisans Festival, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday-Sunday, Nov. 25-27 at The Miners Foundry. The Festival is Nevada City's Thanksgiving weekend tradition featuring fine art and fine craft in a festive, historic atmosphere including good food and drink, and live music. There will be 36 local and regional artists working in painting, sculpture, photography, fiber, clay, jewelry, wood and glass.

Admission is $3 and benefits Miners Foundry; children under 16 are admitted free.

For more information about the Artisans Festival, contact Carol Herschleb at (530) 470-0369 or

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The Union Updated Nov 10, 2011 03:30PM Published Nov 10, 2011 03:17PM Copyright 2011 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.