Utah Arts Festival 2014: Robert Wilhelm | Buzz Blog

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Utah Arts Festival 2014: Robert Wilhelm

Posted By on June 26, 2014, 3:25 PM

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Artists' work at the 2014 Utah Arts Festival is more exciting, more sophisticated, more eclectic, more professional than ever before. A telling example of this is Portland-based artist Robert Wilhelm, a graduate in sculpture from the University of Michigan (Booth 99). ---

With this degree and more than 20 years of experience, does Wilhelm sculpt the figure, blown glass, or exotic pottery? No, for 19 years Wilhelm has been sculpting pepper mills. Says Wilhelm, “It kind of took over my life. Now I do designs for huge pepper companies, I’ve won design awards. In the business, it took a while before I made peace with what I was doing, but now I love it and I’ve been doing it for 19 years.”

Of these extraordinary and eye-catching mills, the only component that is not of Wilhelm’s own creation is a US ceramic crusher adjustable to salt and pepper. A lathe allows Wilhelm to create the body of each unique piece. The same process is used for the magnificent sculpted wooden bowls that Wilhelm also crafts. Accentuating the crafted form is “Pop-art”-like decorative work designed individually for each piece. The process is a mature one, begun from a design tradition in Italy that Wilhelm has studied and mastered, and carries on.

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Ehren Clark

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