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Oakridge Art Council Artist of the Month: Robert Woodson

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Woodcrafter Robert Woodson sits on one of his creations at the Oakridge Art Council’s gallery. Tara Kennedy photo

By TARA KENNEDY/For The Herald  —  Robert Woodson would be the first to tell you that he is not an artist. “I see myself as a wood craftsman,” he told me recently in a sit down interview.  According to the engineer turned crafter, he makes what he likes.  And he has found an audience who also likes what he makes.

Woodson was born in Iowa at the end of WWII, in 1944.  He grew up on a farm but left the day he graduated high school and headed West. 

Woodson worked construction in Colorado for a time, got drafted into the Army but, as luck would have it, was sent to Germany.  After his tour of duty was up, Robert went back to Iowa to work for the railroad. He also went to a local community college to get his Associates in Electronics.

Putting his new degree to work

With his education came an opportunity to work for Motorola in Arizona making semiconductors.  From there, Robert moved back to Colorado to work as an electrical engineer.  And it was there in Colorado that Robert found his first medium to work in: fiber arts.  He had a large white fluffy dog which gave him ample supply of raw material to make into yarn.  

He enjoyed the fiber arts, but when he moved to Eugene, Oregon in 2004, he met Hal Piper who became his mentor in the woodworking arts. 

Robert had a shop off of Bertelsen in West Eugene for several decades.  It was there he perfected his wood craft into what can be seen today. 

Woodson mostly created custom furniture and architectural pieces.  His biggest influences are the Arts and Crafts movement and the Hall brothers in Pasadena.  Roberts would describe his style as masculine with “ a lot of big, hard maple”.  

“It’s the song that comes to you through your eyes”

Woodson has gained his customer base purely from word of mouth.  Robert sees art  as something that “brings joy to your heart.  It’s the song that comes to you through your eyes.”  

He acknowledges that the most motivating factor in creating for him are his clients.  After an interview process, he agrees to commission a piece for the customer, and defines its success if his client enjoys the piece.

And, as he has continued to perfect his craft since 2004, Robert has found that woodworking has helped in other areas, not just financial.  It “helps  maintain a certain degree of sanity during periods of isolation.” 

Catch Robert’s work at the Oakridge Art Council gallery 

Woodson is now in semi-retirement and has enjoyed having his work displayed at the Oakridge Art Council (OAC) gallery for the past eight months.  To see some of Robert’s work, visit the OAC gallery between 12:00-5:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays at 48513 Highway 58, Oakridge, OR 97463 or call 541-606-8483 for more information.

Wooden stands created by Robert Woodson of Westfir Tara Kennedy photo

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