Pesso, Eric

Born and raised in Brooklyn, I can say the same for my work. The oak, maple, sycamore, ash, cherry, and other species which are my raw material were all once living in Prospect Park or the streets of Ditmas Park, cut down for one reason or another by the Parks Department, removed with their blessing, and recycled into something completely new.

My goal is to create interesting objects as elegantly as I can. I gravitate towards airy, free-flowing forms with lots of movement and negative space. The ideas may come from something I see in nature, from another piece of art, but mostly from simply doodling with clay or aluminum wire until something compelling emerges.

Each piece is carved by hand from a single log with chisel and mallet. I avoid logs with unusual shapes which might suggest a form within, preferring the blank canvas of straight-grained, unblemished sections of a tree. After selecting a log whose dimensions roughly correspond to the clay or wire model, I use the model as a guide in the initial rough carving, but discard it as soon as I can visualize the emerging forms. I then continue carving and shaping, making those small but critical decisions that can transform a flat piece into one with life and vibrancy.

I am largely a self-taught artist. My background is not in art but rather in mathematics, having long ago received an M.S. in Math. I am still intrigued by the beauty, simplicity and regularity of symmetry and geometry, both of which are evident in some of my best work. I still make my living as a computer programmer.

In contrast, my formal art education is minimal. Through my late 20s, I had little interest in art, much less in creating it. It was only in the mid 1970s, after being introduced to the work of Jose de Rivera and Naum Gabo, and later to Moore, Brancusi, Arp, and others, that a desire to create took hold of me. I took one sculpture class at Brooklyn College and two at the Brooklyn Museum Art School where I was fortunate to study with master stone and wood carver Masami Kodama, who took me under his wing, invited me to work in his studio for two years, and taught me everything I know about wood, tools, and the techniques of carving. I am forever indebted to him.

In 2012, the Brooklyn Museum sponsored the GO project, a borough-wide Open Studio Tour in which visitors were invited to vote on-line for their favorite artists. I am particularly proud that of the 1800+ participating artists, I was one of the top ten vote-getters. In May, 2015, I won first prize for sculpture in the Salmagundi Club’s Juried Show in Greenwich Village.

I’ve been carving on and off for 40 years; I plan to continue as long as I have the strength.