Living The Creative Life…Visiting Lee Imonen

In February of 2007, Roger and I went to Dexter, Oregon, to the home and studio of sculptor Lee Imonen. Roger was preparing to write an article on Lee and his work for “Sculpture” magazine. We had lunch and they began to talk. I prowled the house, took some photos, drew some pictures, listened to Lee describe his work and where ideas come from. He strongly feels his working is story-telling, each piece coming from his internal narrative. Finnish myth, growing up, being alone, war, the work of working, the stream of conscious and unconscious thought. He said he visually likes the industrial, the Northwest (and particularly Oregon) landscape. Scale and drama are important to Lee, the combination of rough-hewn wood and luscious detail (that would be MY wording). He wants to make work people can touch, climb on, be “involved” with. Here I have to say, I’ve never been enthusiastic about sculpture. Often it seems cold, so totally composed and configured that a viewer is left outside the circle. But Lee’s work really has changed my mind about sculpture. Not the talk about it, the ideas…just the work. The combination of rough and fine, muscular and lyrical are beautiful. Here are some photos from the 2007 visit:

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Lee and Roger look at photos of some of Lee’s public pieces.

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The studio in Dexter. The wood shop.

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Section of a large piece. Study for “the Weir”, the large piece in LaGrande, OR

In January of 2008, with the magazine article on the newstand, we again went to Dexter to have a celebratory lunch with Lee and sculptor Kate Ali, now in residence in Dexter. After a yummy luncheon we again went to the studio. This year, in the wood shop, there were many of Lee’s small pieces–most maquettes for larger works. Lee told Roger that he’d be pleased if we would choose several pieces to take home as thank yous for the article. Oh my gosh–there was “Basket” a small weir, “They Pass Through Me.” We looked, touched and chose. An amazing, never-to-be-forgotten moment.

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Kate and Lee watch Roger ponder his choices.

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Roger with “Basket”. “They Pass Through Me” at the beach.

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