Works in Wood Exhibit opens at the LCCA Sunday

A wood workers exhibit by Richard Hazelwood, the late John Wells, and Wade Manning will be on display during a reception from 2 - 3:30 p.m. Sunday, June 25 at the Louise Campbell Center for the Arts. The art will be on display through July 31. The vases are by Wells and the bowls are the work of Manning. A wood workers exhibit by Richard Hazelwood, the late John Wells, and Wade Manning will be on display during a reception from 2 - 3:30 p.m. Sunday, June 25 at the Louise Campbell Center for the Arts. The art will be on display through July 31. The vases are by Wells and the bowls are the work of Manning.
By: 
DONNA SUMMERALL
Staff Writer

The Louise Campbell Center for the Arts will soon unveil a new exhibit featuring wood-workers Richard Hazelwood, the late John Wells, and Wade Manning.

The opening reception is from 2 - 3:30 p.m. Sunday, June 25. The public is invited to come out and enjoy beauty and craftsmanship expressed in wood.

“I always had a hammer and saw with me, and still have some of those tools I used in my childhood," Hazelwood said. "Training in carpentry skills was provided by the government in a program that I attended as a teen in 1939."

His first job working in construction was interrupted by World War II, in which he served in the Army, and saw active duty in the Philippine Islands. Hazelwood said upon returning home after the war, he set up shop in a small building at the edge of Sally Kate Winter Park, and resumed his work in construction and small projects.

Eventually his skills in cabinetry and fine wood-working were much sought after and his business grew. He and his wife, Bobbie Jean, built a house near his parents on Hazelwood Road, which included another shop,

where he added turned pieces, inlay, and furniture building to his skill set. “I really enjoyed trying a variety of styles and woods, especially exotic woods such as teak, mahogany and burled walnut,” Hazelwood said. "Never attending a workshop or having any instruction in specialty techniques, if I saw an item that I admired,

I would set my mind to figure out how to make it in my shop. It was like figuring out a puzzle to me.”

Also a native of West Point, John Stanley Wells was an accomplished cabinet and furniture maker. His pieces were meticulously crafted and finished to perfection. Those lucky enough to own one of his pieces still treasure them today.

“Most of his creations were for family members and friends and none were made available commercially,” said his daughter Beth Wells Parker.

Serving in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during WWII, he returned afterwards to West Point and he, too, set up a shop and began making fine wooden furniture in the 1950s, expanding his output in the late 1970s into the 1990s.

The pieces in this exhibit are only a small part of the collection of his daughter and her husband Bill Parker.

They were made near the end of his career after he had made some particularly large and elaborate pieces of furniture, such as cabinets, tables, and chairs. A booklet accompanying this exhibit has photos showing the diversity of the furniture he made and includes his own accounts of how he made many of the pieces.

“Johnny was a good friend, and we visited each other’s shops regularly to talk about techniques, discuss projects and just see what the other was working on,” Hazelwood said.

Wells passed away in 2001, but his legacy continues through his beautiful artwork.

Manning is a native of Santa Rosa, New Mexico, and married a Mississippi girl, Joyce Williams, of Columbus. The Mannings now reside in San Bernardino, California. Joyce’s cousin, Roger Merchant, has loaned his collection of Manning’s work for this exhibit.

Using woods from his firewood pile and from what others give him, Manning incorporated other materials and techniques to finish his turned pieces. Soft stones such as turquoise, malachite, pipe stone, and jet can be found enhancing some of his pieces.

Powdered copper, brass, and bronze are sometimes included, and pieces might be finished with a variety of techniques or products, including oils, cellulose sanding sealer, wax, and French polish on a padding lacquer.

“I have been turning wood with a sense of purpose since the late 1990s,” Manning said. “I strive to create something for others to enjoy.”

Attributing his talent as a gift from God, Manning is thankful that he has been blessed to enjoy working with his hands to produce something beautiful.

Sponsored by the West Point/Clay County Arts Council, the exhibit will run through July 31. The LCCA will be staffed 1 - 4 p.m. Wednesdays for visitors to see the show. For more information or to schedule a tour of the exhibit at another day or time, contact Kathy Dyess at 494-5678 or Julie Gray at 295-0461.

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