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Stockholm sculptor Stanton Sears turns trees inside out in new Abode Gallery show

Stockholm sculptor Stanton Sears carves branches and trunks into forms that evoke fabric, muscles or rivers. Photo courtesy of Stanton Sears1 / 2
Stockholm sculptor Stanton Sears carves branches and trunks into forms that evoke fabric, muscles or rivers. Photo courtesy of Stanton Sears2 / 2

STOCKHOLM, Wis. — "What's inside a tree isn't always what you'd expect," says sculptor and Macalester College professor, Stanton Sears. His new exhibit of wood-based sculpture, "Inside+Outside," opens Friday, May 12, at Abode Gallery in Stockholm.

Sears, who typically works in large-scale metal sculpture, is exploring the textures and forms that appear when the bark is peeled away. As he carves, paints and sculpts tree branches and trunks, he creates forms and textures that aren't usually associated with wood.

"Some of the shapes are fibrous, like crochet," Sears said. "Some look like human muscles, some look like a map of a river as it pulls in and opens up."

He admits that it's hard to explain. To the onlooker, though, the pieces are strikingly beautiful, evoking a sense of wonder and mystery.

"Inside+Outside" will be on view at Abode Gallery through June 30, with an opening reception 4:30-6:30 p.m. Friday, May 12.

Abode Gallery owner and curator Alan Nugent has long been an admirer of Sears's metal sculptures, and he's delighted that this new work is of a scale that can be viewed in a gallery.

"This is a chance to experience Stan's sense of design and level of detail on a scale that makes sense in our everyday world," Nugent said. "We're honored to be the first gallery to present this new work."

Sears works with standing trees as well. He carves forms into trees that have died, or trees that are scheduled to be cut down, such as the many ash trees infested with the emerald ash borer.

"You can make a thing of beauty from a standing dead tree," he says, using the same techniques as in his work with branches. Homeowners commission him to create works of art in their yards.

"No bears or Victorian ladies, though," he added. "That's not my thing."

Sears' show is the first of three solo gallery shows at Abode this year. The next two artists are Pepin photographer Midge Bolt, opening July 7, and photographer/painter Joseph Messicci, opening Sept. 8.

Opening wine-and-cheese receptions for each artist, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. are free and open to the public. The receptions will take place during the monthly "Stockholm Stroll," a series of village-wide open house events in Stockholm featuring artist demonstrations, wine and food tastings, music and merchandise specials.

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