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Artist Vic Barr

Updated on June 24, 2014

Wood is beautiful in it's own right...

In 1993 Vic found himself in Boston for a convention. During a tour of the USS Constitution, he obtained several pieces of the oak timbers from the hull. With those pieces and a dexterous hand, Vic created "heritage pieces" - pens and desk sets that were sold with a Certificate of Authenticity only to those for whom the ship held special meaning. The emotional response from the owners of those pieces was overwhelming. Vic had realized his opus - art that was meaningful to both the artist and the buyer. "I am happiest in my workshop - making drawers fit perfectly, feeling them slide smoothly. And retaining the beauty of the wood. Wood is beautiful in it's own right, I don't want to cover it, disguise it, or put it on a production line. It should express itself and me. If I can reuse heritage woods that have a history or hold special meaning for the buyer, well, that's even more satisfying".

Vic currently resides in St. Louis, Missouri with his wife and children. In constant demand, he continues sculpting wood into interesting, dynamic, and beautiful pieces while exhibiting his Matanda line of wood creations at various art shows and venues throughout the region including the Gateway Gallery in Clayton.

The Art of Wood

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Maple ArmoireAmanda's shelf unitCanary wood and Australian Black wood, top inlayChechen HumidorCherry and rosewoodCocobolo and q maple chestCurly Maple and rosewood 4-tierCurly maple and rosewoodCut flower holder, RosewoodDoor Chime Covers
Maple Armoire
Maple Armoire
Amanda's shelf unit
Amanda's shelf unit
Canary wood and Australian Black wood, top inlay
Canary wood and Australian Black wood, top inlay
Chechen Humidor
Chechen Humidor
Cherry and rosewood
Cherry and rosewood
Cocobolo and q maple chest
Cocobolo and q maple chest
Curly Maple and rosewood 4-tier
Curly Maple and rosewood 4-tier
Curly maple and rosewood
Curly maple and rosewood
Cut flower holder, Rosewood
Cut flower holder, Rosewood
Door Chime Covers
Door Chime Covers

Figured Bocote and Birdseye box

Figured Bocote and Birdseye box
Figured Bocote and Birdseye box
Sculpted Walnut Treasure Chest
Sculpted Walnut Treasure Chest

Custom Art Pieces

Individuals often request pieces that are personal. With a variety of woods and finishes and an unending resource of ideas, Vic is available to create custom pieces which reflect your personal aesthetic or artistic bend. Feel free to contact Vic directly to discuss how he can design a unique piece which represents your own artistic vision.

Interview with the Artist - Vic Barr

What kind of art do you make?

Vic Barr Artist.
Vic Barr Artist.

I guess my work falls into about four categories. I design and work with the North American and exotic hardwoods of the world. I create contemporary jewelry chests and towers; I hand-turn a lot of writing instruments, pens and pencils, in those hardwoods and other materials, as well as other vessels; and recently I've begun to do some contemporary table-top sculptural pieces. The fourth category is custom designs and pieces to meet the needs of individual clients. I really enjoy the custom work because my clients give me the latitude to let my imagination enhance their basic requirements and, in return, I give them more than they asked for and a truly unique piece.

What is the best museum/ art gallery/ art exhibit you have ever been to?

Art Deco FP #3
Art Deco FP #3

We’re blessed in the St. Louis area with a wonderful art museum, which has hosted many wonderful exhibits through the years. I’d be hard pressed to select one above all the others, but the one I attended last year that featured the work of American abstract artists from the mid 20th century really impressed me. I’m not the world’s greatest fan of abstract art, but this collection of legendary works allowed me to see the genre with new appreciation.

Another of the exhibits that had a profound effect on me was a number of years ago that featured a number of well-known impressionist painters.

What draws you to the medium you use?

Artist Vic Barr
Artist Vic Barr

Through the years I painted in oils, acrylics and watercolor, sculpted my kids’ heads in clay, and did a lot of drawing in various media. When I started to explore a new medium, I studied it and built as many of my own tools as I was able. Eventually I realized that, while I was competent in the media, I really enjoyed designing and building the easels, pedestals, and other equipment in preparation for working in the latest medium. Then I discovered the exotic woods of the world, and there was no turning back. Besides the opportunity to work in woods whose names I couldn’t even pronounce, I began to realize that it seems to be a mission in life to show others the natural beauty that’s really under the bark of a tree. I never tire of it, and at latest count I’ve worked with eighty-seven different hardwoods from nearly every continent (there aren’t many trees in Antarctica).

Friedman Knife Chests
Friedman Knife Chests

Do you have pets? Tell about them...

Two border collies, Molly and MacDuff, allow my wife and me to live with them. Though from different litters, MacDuff has taken the role of tolerant big brother to the exuberant younger Molly. They’re endlessly entertaining, loving members of our family, and much easier to raise than our two children were.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Curly Maple and Cocobolo sculpted slant tower
Curly Maple and Cocobolo sculpted slant tower

As with most other artists and craftsmen I know, that varies. Sometimes inspiration is sparked by something a client wants, sometimes an unusual piece of wood will dictate the best way to exhibit its best features, sometimes a shape or curve or element in a museum piece suggests a new context , sometimes a doodle from a boring meeting matures into a new piece, sometimes …. Inspiration comes from whatever we’re ready to see.

Wooden Heart Box
Wooden Heart Box

If you could own any work of art in the world, what would it be and why?

That’s a tough one, but one work consistently rises above all others for me. Michelangelo’s Pieta has enchanted me since, as a teenager, I first saw pictures of the work. The incredible detail, the life, the feeling, that he brought out of that marble block stands as the ultimate tribute to the life and work of this master of every medium he chose.

What hobbies do you have?

Cocobolo, figured maple, yellowheart clock
Cocobolo, figured maple, yellowheart clock

I read a lot and I’m actively involved in the leadership of several nonprofit art organizations; Missouri Artisans Association, Greater St. Louis Art Association, and the St. Louis Woodworkers’ Guild. I also belong to the St. Louis Artists Guild and the National Association of Independent Artists.

Wooden Jewelry Box
Wooden Jewelry Box

How often do you create?

I’m in my shop nearly every day, and ideas for new pieces, work in progress and work that may evolve from something I’ve already done occupy at least a part of my mind on some level most of the time. Often, when I step into the shop I’ve already completed a mental image of a new creation down to the smallest detail. The thinking part of what I do is often the most exciting element in the work.

One of a Kind Jewelry Boxes

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Figured bocote, maple, sculptedFigured teak and curly maple 3-drawer towerGranadillo with art glass topMahogany CubedMorado and Q maple auction boxSapodilla, maple, sculptedZiricote and BE mapleZiricote and Birdseye MapleZiricote, Q maple with morado loopCherry And Lacewood Tower
Figured bocote, maple, sculpted
Figured bocote, maple, sculpted
Figured teak and curly maple 3-drawer tower
Figured teak and curly maple 3-drawer tower
Granadillo with art glass top
Granadillo with art glass top
Mahogany Cubed
Mahogany Cubed
Morado and Q maple auction box
Morado and Q maple auction box
Sapodilla, maple, sculpted
Sapodilla, maple, sculpted
Ziricote and BE maple
Ziricote and BE maple
Ziricote and Birdseye Maple
Ziricote and Birdseye Maple
Ziricote, Q maple with morado loop
Ziricote, Q maple with morado loop
Cherry And Lacewood Tower
Cherry And Lacewood Tower

Where to Find Vic

Gateway Gallery

Matanda

Phone - (314) 997-1181

E-Mail - Vic@matanda.com

What do you think?

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    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      His work is quite beautiful, unique and very imaginative! A wonderful lens deserves to be Angel Blessed! (and added to my Squid Angel Mouse Tracks lens:)

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      Both beautiful and unique work. It's clear to see that so much love and care goes into this. What a delight to meet Vic Barr and his work via this lens.

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 7 years ago

      Very cool!My hubby does wood art, but mostly really cool birdhouses & intricate frames...this stuff is really neat!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      This man is an amazing artisan. I have seen his work up close and there are no disappointments here - ever.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Excellent Blog. It really shows off your work Vic.

    • RobW1 profile image

      RobW1 7 years ago

      Very interesting work, Blessed by a woodworker!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 7 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Having a love for most art .. art made out of wood is one of my favorites. We have one room in our home we have reserved for "wood" art. Thank you for sharing this man's talents with us. 5* favored and lensrolled to my "Art" lens named "Staycation."

    • HorseAndPony LM profile image

      HorseAndPony LM 7 years ago

      I think I need one of each. These are amazing. Once again the best Groovy Finds ever.

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 7 years ago from West Virginia

      Very nicely done, and impressive work and artist!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 7 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Wow! Absolutely beautiful!

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