art group promotes
crafts in Grant County, Ky.
highlight areas varied talent
Helen E. McKinney
DRY RIDGE, Ky. (June 2009) Wood carver Brian
Sims cannot remember ever being without a pocket knife. Growing up as
a boy in Kentucky in the 1960s, he spent much time whittling, a process
that has allowed him to use his creative talent and turn a boyhood hobby
into a lucrative career.
I suppose having a pocket knife was a standard, Dad-issued piece
of equipment, said Sims who grew up in Louisville, Ky., but spent
most of his life in the Lexington, Ky., area.
carver Brian Sims has been
commissioned by McDonalds and
country music star Gretchen Wilson
to create his unique carvings.
Sims, 50, did not master the art of woodcarving until
much later in life. In 1992, while camping with a friend, their hatchet
handle broke and they realized it was a piece of equipment they couldnt
be without. Sims found a log and carved a handle for the hatchet with
a Stanley utility knife.
The process felt good, and I found another piece of wood and carved
what would become the bust of a Native American Chief. The resulting
piece, although crude was promising and I loved the feel of carving.
A few years ago he participated in the Autumn Art Festival in Grant
County, Ky. The event is sponsored by Community Enrichment Through the
Arts. He thought it was such a great show that he took part in the following
two CETA art shows and was honored as an Artist of the Month.
When his wife was transferred from Shelbyville, Ky., to northern Kentucky,
the couple settled in Dry Ridge. Sims now sits on the Board of Directors
for CETA. He began his wood carving and sculpting business, HipShot
Wood Carving, in 2003.
We have a variety of artists and craftspeople in CETA, said
member Judy Mullins, who is also the tourism director for the Grant
County Tourism Commission. One wall in the Tourism Commission Center
is dedicated to a rotating gallery exhibit, featuring a different artist
each month. The Tourism Commission Center is located in the Dry Ridge
Outlet Center, 1116 Fashion Ridge Rd., just of exit 159 of I-75.
CETA is constantly on the lookout for ways to highlight its members.
An Artisans Day is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on June 28. Several
artists will be demonstrating their crafts indoors and outdoors at the
Tourism Commission Center.
In 2001, Mullins, who also crafts herbal soaps and does basket and chair
weaving, met an individual with the Kentucky Arts Council and asked
him how she could go about forming an art group in Grant County. Mullins
organized a group of artists who called themselves the Eagle Creek Arts
Council. The name was later changed when a group known as Grant County
Celebrating the Arts wanted to join with them, and they are now simply
known as CETA.
Sims liked what he saw CETA accomplishing for area artists. He carves
professionally on a full time basis and said woodcarving is both my
occupation and my hobby.
A self-taught carver, his medium of choice is wood, although he has
used marble, granite and other stones as bases. He does not paint any
of his carvings because he believes it masks the natural and complex
beauty of the wood.
Woodcarving is, in my opinion, taking the beauty of Mother Natures
creation and enhancing it, said Sims. When I am carving,
I achieve a state of mind where all worldly concerns are gone and the
wood and the art become of singular focus. I love the feel of wood in
Sims has created pieces for many notable customers who include U.S.
Air Force and Marine squadrons, horse owners, collectors and country
music star Gretchen Wilson. Wilsons tour production manager contact
Sims about a carving he had seen on Sims website titled, Wisdom,
He wanted to give it to Gretchen as a gift because it reminded
him of the stories she told of her grandmother. When he saw the piece
in person in Nashville, Tenn., he could not believe the feelings Wisdom
Sims was contacted by one of McDonalds major ad agencies and asked
to carve the golden arches for President and C.O.O. of McDonalds
Worldwide, Ralph Alvarez. The carving was a gift to recognize Alvarezs
accomplishments and was carved from Cuban Mahogany
For more information on CETA, contact Judy Mullins
at (859) 322-3082 or (859) 824-3451 or visit www.cetaarts.us. For more
information on Brian Sims, please visit his website at: www.HipShotWood.com.
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