Meet the Artist - Ron Ufkes
After a stint in the U. S. Army and earning a BS from the University of Illinois, I worked as a park ranger with the National Park Service for several years. In 1969 I began a 20 year career with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department in California. Upon my retirement, I was employed as an investigator in the defense industry, finally calling it quits in 1997.
My wife, Janice, and I had spent part of two vacations in the Ozarks and found that we loved the mountains, lakes, forests and people. We now live in the small town of Lakeview, just a few miles west of Mountain Home, Arkansas.
I’ve been turning wood for about 20 years, but those familar with irregular work hours and long commutes know that there is not much spare time left for hobbies. Since retirement though, I can usually be found in my shop, which is a real mess, working on the lathe.
I do love to collect my wood, but I rarely cut a living tree. It is not that I am philosophically opposed to harvesting trees, it is just that there is so much wood in this area that is discarded as a worthless nuisance that it is really un-necessary. Often after a storm, I will throw my chain saw into the back of my pickup truck and drive around the community to see what has blown down. Much of the work that you see here in my shop is from trees brought down by storms.
I’m sorry to say that wood turning has not revealed the meaning of life or disclosed any of the deep philosophical insights that some have experienced while practicing their art. But, I do enjoy the sound of the tools cutting into the wood blank and watching the ever changing patterns in the wood as the waste is cut away. The feel of the surface of a well designed and finished piece can be an almost sensual experience.
And, of course, it is also very gratifying when you find that someone liked your work enough to actually pay money for it.