JOHN IWERKS, Joy Ride from Start to Finish
Santa Barbara artist John Iwerks is well-known for his landscape paintings and murals, such as the large mural he made for the Visitors’ Center on Santa Barbara Island, Channel Islands National Park, California. Over the years, John has also created stone animal sculptures, right in line with the tradition of endearing and poignant carvings created through the ages. I recently did a written interview with John about his exquisite pieces. Places that he mentions—Gallery 113, The Yes Store, Easton Gallery, and Figueroa Mountain—are all located in the Santa Barbara, California, area. This past year, John moved to nearby Santa Ynez Valley.
Peggy: Tell me about your stone carvings.
John: I began stone carving at the Santa Barbara Art Institute, taught by Alice de Creeft, in 1974. She looked at my small Sculpey figures that I made on the side (mostly modeled on top of metal knobs) and she said, “When you get to Heaven, you’ll have a knob for Saint Peter!” (Hope that’s true.)
Peggy: How you chose the stone? Did you find it or buy it?
Peggy: Have you exhibited them?
Peggy: What tools did you use?
John: For stone, I use chisel and hammer, Makita grinder with various circular tools (diamond blade, sandpaper blade, etc.) and various degrees of sandpaper and rasps and files. Also a dremel tool with finer detail tool bits. For ceramic and Sculpey, I use the traditional wooden tools for points and flats, push and pull.
Peggy: How did you learn how to do this?
John: It came sort of naturally. It was during a High School art class that I created a Gorilla playing a piano, quite unintentionally, and was surprised that it just emerged from mere clay. I was hooked.
Peggy: How did you choose your subject–did it emerge from the shape of the stone?
John: Usually the stone suggests the subject
Peggy: Did you start with wood or soap?
John: Neither, but would often draw what I was after, and make drawings along the way of what I had, and what I was after. With ceramics, it was a joy ride from start to finish.
Peggy: Well, John, your work is a Joy Ride indeed. Thank you.