Can you better appreciate the creation of a piece of art when you understand the process, the time invested, the devotion behind it, as well as the artist’s vision? That is the goal for Tommy Gagnon of Salem-based Boston Woodturning Gallery, located on Artists’ Row.
“What sets my gallery’s content apart from others is the medium itself, ‘woodturning’ was rarely shown as an art form until the recent exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum called Audacious. The PEM did a fantastic job of showcasing woodturning as an art form, opening the public’s eyes to the possibilities,”states Gagnon.
Woodturning is conceived using a lathe and varies from most other forms of woodworking in that the wood is moving. The lathe is stationary to give support to the piece wood that’s turning at a high rotation per minute (RPM); wood turners then use various chisels to carve out the designs in the wood, somewhat like sculpting but faster. This in turn leads to diverse shapes & designs.
Gagnon continues, “One of my goals is to further these efforts showcasing the art of woodturning by uniquely offering the public a woodturning gallery and working studio that the public can watch a practical commissioned piece being made or an artistic creation.”
Additionally, he adds “wood is the main theme in the Boston Woodturning Gallery so that there is room for many other wood-themed creations, keeping the gallery fresh with new woodturning weekly as well as incorporating other local artisans work in the gallery in a complimentary way.”
Speaking of other artisans, why is Gagnon among the current crop staking a claim to physical space on Artists’ Row?
He explains, “The rich history and sense of community are unique to this venue. There is an unwavering support for the arts on the Row. It is one of those ‘grassroots’ historical Salem community spaces that has always supported the growing of artists. I selected this place because of my familiarity of the area, my connection to Salem as an artist and the opportunity to show my artwork/medium to the public.”
It’s quite possible that his is one of the few woodturning galleries & open studios on the North Shore that has presented the craft in such a way to the public.
Every Thursday, Boston Woodturning offers activities for families and kids to enjoy during the weekly Farmers’ Market. These include games that educate kids about wood, uses of wood, recycling/ up cycling, guessing the type of wood, guessing what shavings the wood is from, as well as introducing information by sight, smell, and touch. Gagnon also offers demonstrations during that 3-6pm time frame.
“There is something about wood in its finished form that whispers softly its artistic natural beauty,” reflects Gagnon.
You can visit his store website to explore the extensive photo collection of woodturning as well as general woodworking, paintings and sculptures. Or just carve time in your day to go to the Boston Woodturning Gallery which is located at 24 New Derby St., Salem MA. Hours are Tuesday – Sunday 11-6pm and on Thursday 11-7pm.