‘New wood and metal doesn’t have the personality that the old pieces have’

Jeff Barrett incorporates old wood, metal into his carvings, sculptures

Wed, 07/31/2019 - 12:30pm

MONROE — Jeff Barrett, a Monroe-based artist, takes pride in not only his art, but also the source materials of his art. 

The former Colorado resident spent the 1980s and 1990s working in a well-known art glass studio in Denver, Colorado, where lived for two decades during a time he described as a “wonderful and unique time in American craft.” 

As an artist for most his life, Barrett noted he has always worked in media other than glass, despite the two decades spent working in the art glass studio. 

“I paint, stain glass, sculpt or whatever interests me at the time,” he stated. 

After a decade along the Colorado and New Mexico border, where he established Whistling Bird Designs, Barrett and his wife to Monroe on the recommendation of friends. 

“We were living in Colorado and fracking sent us to Maine after our friends, who live here, suggested we check it out,” he recalled. “We [checked Maine out] and we stayed.”

Now living on Maine’s coast, Barrett sources his inspiration from the state’s flora and fauna, antique folk art and old signs, and history. 

Sourced from the wood of old barns and sheds, antique molding, hand forged metal, old furniture and other miscellaneous pieces, Barrett’s pieces have developed into an eco-friendly line of wood carvings and sculptures. 

“It’s nice to keep these things out of the landfill and fun to figure out where I can incorporate them in a piece,” he said. “New wood and metal doesn’t have the personality that the old pieces have.”

Barrett, who described himself as an excellent scavenger, said yard sales, flea markets and friends have yielded successful hunts for items to be incorporated into his art. 

On his website, Barrett showcases antique paintings, vintage weathervanes and theater sets featuring fish, birds, dogs, cats, whales and ships as characters in his folk art and wood sculptures. 

Like any artist, Barrett enjoys receiving feedback on his unique spins on art, which he indicated tends to fall naturally into place once he gathers all the pieces to incorporate. 

“I get the biggest thrill when someone appreciates what I make and enjoys it as much as I do making it,” he said. “I have a whale of a good time making them!” 

Reach George Harvey at: sports@penbaypilot.com