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PETER DELLERT NEW WORLD V, 2019. Hydrangea flower petals, postage stamp on found metal, vintage atlas pages, sandpaper, leaf on laser print on washi. A4 297mm x 210mm

Then I ended up at Penland for a stint, then Celo, an intentional Quaker community down the road in N.C. where I first worked on a house building crew. Then I settled in the Valley and eventually found a job on a construction crew. The rest sort of fell into place, and I never went back to the clay. Oftentimes, though people used to say they could see the clay influence in my furniture. I always took that as a compliment. I got single again at 50, and decided to do a sculpture residency at Vermont Studio Center, using my furniture slides to get accepted. I went back again the next year, put the tuition on my credit card, and decided to become a sculptor. I was not getting rich making custom furniture and decided I would rather make art. Or try to. Tell us, Peter, what kind of furniture did you make? Are you still active in this venue? Peter: I am a self- taught woodworker although I did take a few classes early on at Penland and Haystack. Pottery and working with Ron helped me learn how to work with my hands, carefully, accurately, repeatedly, tirelessly. Potting is not easy work. Wood is less forgiving but there is no kiln firing involved so it is less risky in my mind. You learn how to fix your mistakes. 34 • JULY 2019 THE ARTFUL MIND

I took a class in 1991 with Wendy Maruyama that changed my life and my approach to wood. It was a class in color and painting furniture. I spent the next fifteen years exploring that and developed a line of live edge tables with painted bases and wall cabinets with lots of dyed and painted surfaces and mixed media interiors. That is when the collage came into my work. The interiors of the cabinets were heavily decorated. That website is defunct but I want to rebuild it and I still make those cabinets, although now they are largely sculptural. I call them reliquaries. Lauren Clark Gallery in Great Barrington showed my furniture and wall pieces for years, mostly when she was in Housatonic. She sold one of those cabinets before I finished hanging it on the wall the day of someone’s opening. Wood is an amazing (and renewable) material and we are blessed to have many beautiful species here in the Northeast. Prior, your college days lead you to a BA in Biology. What interested you in this subject? Peter: Early on Jacque Cousteau was my hero and I wanted to become an oceanographer. The oceans seemed largely unexplored. The space race was on and I thought that was a waste of money (still do). What is really driving the bus are the little copepods

and plankton in the ocean and the reef systems. We can do without whales, but without the reefs we are going to be in trouble. Most people respond to things with two eyes. Only one tenth of one percent of the living organisms on the planet are animals. It’s all the rest we should be concerned about. Science taught me to look closely, ask intelligent questions and then develop a way to answer those questions. It still works for me. Where did you grow up? What was your family life like as a child? You must have some fond memories, can you share with us one or two that were significant to you? Peter: I grew up in Gardiner Maine. My mom lived there until very recently. And I still have a brother in Augusta, next door. But both my parents were from Massachusetts. My Dad was born in Pittsfield. There was a Dellert block on North St. built at the turn of the century (19th/20th). His father owned the first gas station in Pittsfield. I am trying to unwrite some of that karma now. We spent every Christmas in Pittsfield at my Nanas. I liked it there. It was bigger than Gardiner. My uncle Norman Dellert, the artist lived next door to my grandmother, my great aunt who lived to be 99 lived downtown in a huge apartment building she

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the artful mind july 2019  

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