After a 42 year career as a Civil Engineer, Jim became a full time sculptor in 2007, enjoying the creative freedom of working as a studio artist in Richmond, Texas. He nurtured a lifelong love of wood, evolving from a carpenter, to a cabinet maker, to a wood turner and finally to a sculptor. After studying 3D design, sculpture and foundry at the Glassell School of Art, he now creates museum quality sculptures in wood and bronze.
“There is a passion some have for living trees. Jim Keller is such a man. He starts with trees that have fallen for natural reasons, and then his mission is to discover and show the hidden beauty of the life of that tree. He has a feel for the wood, for the grain, for the spirit of the living tree. His job then is to create a beautiful piece of art to celebrate the life of the tree. It is important when viewing his work to touch the wood and know that the beauty of a particular tree has been showcased and preserved.
“Mesquite wood is a favorite with Jim. First, it is native to where he lives. The Mesquite has a beauty all its own that reflects its ability to live and prosper in an environment that is not always hospitable. Then, when lovingly examining the wood of a tree naturally fallen, Jim is able to find and understand the grains to bring forth the character of the tree.”*
Jim has participated in many juried art shows throughout the United States and has permanent collections in the Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, Alabama, and the American Association of Woodturners Gallery, St. Paul, Minnesota.
I’m always looking at sculpture in other media for inspiration. After seeing the work of Jesus Morales, a stone sculptor, I was inspired to investigate the wheel form. My first wheel included a scorched sphere representing a meteorite that penetrated the center of the form. That piece was entitled “Evolution of the Wheel”. Little did I know at the time that this would be the start of a series exploring the wheel form.
I’m always looking for a unique piece of wood that will allow me to develop an interesting design for a wood sculpture. My goal as an artist is to combine the circular form and fair curves of a piece of wood with its character, drama and natural beauty. That allows me to create a sculpture highlighting natural edges and negative space for an individual and unique sculpture.
*Quote and photos by Mary Martin Gallery