Local artist work showcased in Wood Engravers’ Network show

The work of Paul and Brenda Bonnes will be exhibited as a supplement to the traveling exhibition of the Wood Engraver’s Network, which opened July 5 at the Randolph County Community Arts Center.

The exhibit is called “The Visitation” and is on display and open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Wednesday, Aug. 21

Each of the Bonnes’ pieces consists of a wooden box upon which whimsical scenes and depictions of nature’s creatures are painted. Paul makes the box and Brenda does the painting, but that is grossly oversimplified. The walls are fitted together with dovetail joints in painstaking detail. The door hinges are also wooden, and hand-carved. Inside, there are a few surprises: maybe a couple of beautifully crafted, perfectly fitted drawers. Maybe some metalwork to complement the wood interior.

Brenda’s paintings, wrought in acrylic paint and supplemented by woodburning, are thought-provoking; they’re not just animals, they’re animals that seem to almost speak to us. They seem to want to send a message to us poor humans. They are intended to make you think about nature and our role in it, and maybe even about what our responsibilities are.

While he’s making the box, Paul is thinking about what Brenda is going to paint on it, and he might have an idea or two of his own about that. Meanwhile, Brenda is contemplating her painting and trying to visualize the not-yet-completed box so that she can plan accordingly.

Prior to their escape from the Washington, D.C. area, Paul worked in the telecommunications industry and Brenda worked as a graphic designer. They moved to the area in 2004, and quickly became a part of the local artist community. Their work titled “Walkabout” won Best In Show in the RCCAC’s Gala Juried Exhibition in 2005. They followed that up with more pieces exhibited locally and elsewhere, such as at Tamarack.

They’ve collaborated on more than just boxes; there have been at least two native American flutes, exquisitely crafted and decorated. Their home near Valley Bend is full of individual and joint creations, from the metal sculpture made from reinforcing rod that lines the sidewalk to the small tables and benches that are scattered throughout the inside.

Their RCCAC exhibit, “The Visitation” is a series of six boxes, each depicting an animal sending some sort of message.