For any craftsperson, the successful marriage of three-dimensional and two-dimensional disciplines is one of the most difficult hurdles of the creative arts. Buyers at this year’s CLA fundraising auction will have the chance to own a unique sculpture by master carver Bruce Meurer that skillfully accomplishes the feat.
Meurer executed the piece in basswood, a tight-grained medium favored by professional woodcarvers. Measuring 11” high, the bust depicts a typical warrior of the eastern woodlands during the 18th century. The sculpture itself, however, is anything but typical, and the amount of detail that the artist was able to capture at such a diminutive scale is remarkable. The minutest trappings of the warrior’s possessions are historically accurate and expertly carved. He’s depicted with a French fusil slung over his back and a turkey plume adorning his scalp lock. The warrior’s chest is draped with strands of carved wampum beads, and each earlobe is adorned with a loop of sterling silver wire.
To bring life to the sculpture, the artist finished the carving by utilizing a palette of thinned oil paints mixed with Danish oil. Meurer’s “wet-on-wet” technique has been favored by master painters for centuries and results in an appropriately muted appearance. The colors, he observes, “blend together and appear as a thin stain instead of heavy paint and the wood grain shows through creating a soft, blended look.” Perched atop a finely figured tiger maple base, the final result is a one-of-a-kind sculpture directly from the hands of the artist.
Meurer is not only a skilled wood carver but a long-time reenactor who brings a familiarity with history to the work bench. He’s been carving for over two decades, and, he explains, has been “a serious student of the eastern woodlands cultures since about 2001 and they are my nearly exclusive subject matter.”
For Meurer, the CLA is a natural fit. “The organization,” he says, “provides me with comradeship with other people of like interest and a sense of helping to portray and spread the history of America through my art.”
For more information on the work of Bruce Meurer, contact the artist directly at:
621 E. Call St.
Algona, IA 50511
Text by J Shepherd with photos by D Wright