Sculptor Fred Gearhart Opens Up his Workshop for Annual Open House

Gearhart

Sat 5/28-Sun 5/29

For decades Fred Gearhart, 68, would noodle around with wood carving while he worked as a high school chemistry and physics teacher.

However, it was 15 years ago that the Cleveland Heights resident decided to leave behind the world of formulas and equations to concentrate on a recipe of self-fulfillment as a sculptor. Today, the busy artist shows off his work at an annual open studio event, which takes place Sat 5/28 & Sun 5/29 @1-7pm  at his home, 1609 Rydalmount Road, Cleveland Heights.

CoolCleveland talked to Gearhart about what art lovers can expect at his unique open house.

Tell us all about your upcoming event.

It’s an open studio and sculptor garden. This is the 9th year I’ve been doing this. My studio is in the back of our house. I have an outdoor pergola for shade where I carve stone outside year round. There’s also a big sculpture garden. There should probably be 150 different pieces from small to quite large.

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Why did you start the open studio affair in the first place?

Years ago there was an organization in town called NOVA (New Organization for the Visual Arts). Back in the late ’80s through the ’90s, they used to have an open studio day over three or four counties where 200 different artists would be open for that day. I used to participate in that, and I liked it. I liked getting people here. We’d get exposure. That organization folded and there were several years I didn’t have anything like this. I just thought about it and figured it’s good publicity. So why couldn’t I just promote something myself and have people come and see my work?

In addition to making some money, the open studio also serves the purpose of cleaning out your workshop.

Yes, that’s one of the objectives.

How did you get started sculpting?

I think three dimensionally. When I tried drawing, it looks stupid because I’m thinking about it from several angles at a time. I carved wood off and on since high school, but that was kind of a hobby. Then 30 years ago an artist named Larry Fox had a stone studio in Murray Hill School. He was offering a class, one night a week for six weeks. Everybody would make a piece of alabaster or siltstone. It totally changed my life. It was just what I thought was one of the coolest things I had ever done.

What’s your specialty?

It’s primarily stone. I do some wood and some cast bronze but stone is my primary medium. Much of my work relates to the figure. Even a lot of the abstract pieces are based on the figure. Plus, there are simple garden pieces like birdbaths and fountains and benches.

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Tell us about the different pieces you’ll have for sale at the open studio event.

Right now I have an abstract piece in granite that comes apart in three pieces to move it but together it’s about a ton. It’s an abstract form. But I like to do faces and characters. I have a whole series of pieces that are carved heads that originally I started putting them on the ground and people would put in their garden. I still do have some of those but I found that in most gardens they look great in May but by August it’s hard to find them. Everything has grown. So I started putting some of these on stakes. They’re four feet long and floating above vegetation. I call them floaters. Some people see a head on a stick and are turned off by them but a lot of people like them. They’re real simple. I put a lot of character into them and don’t worry as much about anatomy as trying to make a good statement. The prices are reasonable.

Finally, who would enjoy your studio open house?

I like to open this for friends and neighbors so they can see what I’m up to lately. It’s social as well, but of course I’m trying to sell also. And although I’ve been talking about garden pieces, I will have pieces here that are suitable for indoors like softer stones and wood pieces. My pieces start around $50 and go up to several thousand. I’ll say the majority of the pieces that are here are under $300. There are a lot more small pieces than large pieces.

[Written by John Benson]

[Photos by Anastasia Pantsios]

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