Master carver, painter, creator
May 21, 2018 10:20AM ● Published by City Journals Staff
David on strings while Carol plays the limberjack. (Amy Green/City Journals)
By Amy Green | firstname.lastname@example.org
The third floor of West Jordan City Hall has a special upper room called The Schorr Gallery. It is located at 8000 South Redwood Road, and it’s available to visitors from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays. The room brings to view several artists throughout the year. Schorr Gallery is an open-house style display where all are invited to walk in and see diverse forms of art in one relaxed space.
Recently, the gallery hosted works of master craftsman David Sharp. The art has a distinctive quality that Sharp describes as “modern primitivism.”
“I’ve always loved work by indigenous cultures: African masks and carvings, Meso-American stone carvers and Polynesian work,” Sharp said.
On May 3, Sharp brought his paintings, sculptures, music and limberjacks for an immersed-in-art experience.
A limberjack is a three dimensional wood carving—a nimble, limber, functional stick puppet. Sharp demonstrated his limberjacks in action. Some were hewn in the shape of wild moorland ponies. Walking into the gallery, Sharp’s wife Carol manipulated the marionette-like animals. The carved horses moved and clopped in a percussive gallop, while Sharp played string and woodwind instruments. He is proficient on the Appalachian dulcimer, Renaissance recorders and French epinette.
Carol and David Sharp often perform in duo together as the artistic team “Idlewild.” They play Celtic and world music with an entertaining, soothing sound. David Sharp can make whistling through a pipe or strumming the banjo look easy. Their music has a faraway, fairytale quality.
“We’re storytellers with the Utah Storytelling Guild,” David Sharp said. “We appear frequently at the Viridian Center and with Story Crossroads.”
Story Crossroads is an annual Utah festival with professional artists who can really perform, spin a yarn and incorporate music into storytelling.
Throughout the gallery, Sharp’s paintings set a welcoming mood along with the music he and Carol played. It was an interactive and easy attention-grabbing time for kids. Dancing seemed to be a natural response for the children who took part. Families listened to his folk narratives and were encouraged to ask questions or make observations about his works around the room.
Rachael Hedman brought her children— Conner (10), Jaden (8) and Alexis (4)—to the gallery. It can be nerve-racking taking younger children to art exhibit.
“The more that kids come to events like this, the more they learn to respect art,” Hedman said. “It’s hard in the beginning, but it’s worth it in the end. Art is meant to be for all generations.”
Kids gathered at the feet of David and Carol Sharp to experience art up close. Even the tiniest of toddlers were allowed to test a limberjack unicorn and see what it’s like to be a master puppeteer. The Sharps were very warm and friendly.
West Jordan Arts Councilwoman and professional artist Rebecca Klundt helped bring Sharp’s work to the Schorr Gallery.
“The great thing about David is that his pieces all have stories,” Klundt said. “It’s really fun to get to talk to him. I really love the primitive people he carves.”
Klundt marveled over one of Sharp’s wood sculptures called “Primitive Man on the Block.” Klundt described the piece saying, “It’s got character. It’s got a story to it. It’s interesting.” She admires Sharp’s methods.
“He takes different cultures and mythologies and studies them,” Klundt said. The art remained on exhibit through May 30.
David Sharp also displayed his relief carvings intermingled with his paintings. Relief carvings are pictures and designs formed on a flat plane of wood. The Schorr Gallery exhibit case was chock-full of his human-image sculptures in different sizes and postures.
“The figures represent ancestor guardian figures,” David Sharp said. The sculptures reveal how deft a master carver he is and how much time he devotes to learning cultures and subject matter. There also might be magic in his timber craftsmanship tools.
David Sharp has had a long career of study, practice and skill. He has an impressive resume and interesting life to hear about. He creates art even with his conversation, his prose and his presence.