For the City Times
PORT EDWARDS — Alexander House will open their art exhibits to the public on April 6 – May 22. Works will feature artists Graham Coulson and Paul Tornow.
Originally from Newcastle upon Tyne in north east England Coulson came to Wausau, Wisconsin with his wife, Tami, originally from Wisconsin Rapids, and son Owen in January 2006. He initially graduated with a degree in engineering and worked at a structural engineering company in London in the late eighties but after a period of unemployment returned to college in the nineties to study furniture design. After diversions into working in security at a large bank in London and working as a landscape designer he returned to designing and making furniture in 2010. He first started making furniture while at school utilizing old pallet wood his father brought home from his factory. His first piece was a hifi rack, an updated version was displayed at his feature show at Gallery Q in Stevens Point last year. 30 years later the influence of the pallet is still evident in many of his designs in the form of the wide slat leg. His style is modern, but more in keeping with mid century Scandinavian design.
He prefers not to use stain on wood as he feels it kills the natural beauty of the grain. To enhance this his preferred finish is Danish oil which has the advantage of not needing to be sprayed.
Joining Coulson is Paul Tornow who grew up in northern Wisconsin, immersed in the outdoor beauty Boulder Junction is known for – and sparking Paul’s interest in painting and drawing nature. After completing high school Paul moved to Alaska to pursue his dream of becoming a big game hunting/fishing guide.
Paul started off guiding out on the Pacific ocean. He then started filling in the year by guiding the shoulder seasons, spring and fall, with black and brown bear hunts. Being a guide lead him to wilds of Alaska he never could have dreamed of seeing. These adventures fueled his passion of observing wildlife and provided the inspiration for many of his works. Paul later transitioned to the guiding of the fresh water rivers and lakes of the Kenai Peninsula.
One of Paul’s favorite experiences while in Alaska was being flown out in small planes and being dropped off to live in a small tent camp out on the Alaska Peninsula. During these times, there was no connection to the human world other than a satellite phone for emergencies. His job was simple: wake up, make breakfast, and guide a client up a mountain ridge. The joy of simply observing wildlife in some of the most beautiful settings he could ever imagine is something he was blessed to know.
The mountains, ocean, and wildlife inspired Paul to continue to create art – and to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University Alaska – Anchorage. One of the works Paul is most proud of is a pair of sculptures titled – “Strength in the Face of Adversity”. This was a 11 year project Paul completed just before returning to Wisconsin in 2017. This work is on permanent display at the University of Alaska’s Kenai River Campus. The piece is of 2 bull moose squaring off on the front lawn getting ready to clash antlers until one’s victorious. The scrap metal sculptures stand 18 feet high, 12 feet wide and each is 25 feet in length.
Paul was formally trained in all types of media: Sculpture, welding, watercolor, oils, acrylics, charcoal, and pastels. He’s prefers to work with watercolor, acrylics, and any kind of drawing utensil he can get his hands on. As far as his artistic style goes, it could probably be categorized as abstract realism. While the vast majority of his subjects tend to be underwater scenes of fish or land mammals in their natural habitat. He occasionally works with the human figure as well.
The work on display presented by Paul reflects on past memories from his guiding days in the Alaskan wilderness as well as images from Wisconsin created during his first year back in Wisconsin.
The exhibit will continue through May 22, 2018 The artists will be present. Refreshments will be served The Alexander House is open from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday or by special appointment Parking is allowed on Wisconsin River Drive on opening nights.
Visit their Facebook page “Alexander House Center for Art and History” for up to date information and links to artists’ websites or visit alexanderhouseonline.org The Alexander House, A Center for Art and History ,1131 Wisconsin River Dr. Port Edwards.