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Sculptor Gay Haven Smith takes the toughest of materials and makes them sing

  • Wiggle Room by Gary Haven Smith

    Wiggle Room by Gary Haven Smith

  • "Wave Bench" by Gary Haven Smith

    "Wave Bench" by Gary Haven Smith

  • Line Up by Gary Haven Smith

    Line Up by Gary Haven Smith

  • Ostia by Gary Haven Smith

    Ostia by Gary Haven Smith

  • Ostia by Gary Haven Smith

    Ostia by Gary Haven Smith

  • Wiggle Room by Gary Haven Smith
  • "Wave Bench" by Gary Haven Smith
  • Line Up by Gary Haven Smith
  • Ostia by Gary Haven Smith
  • Ostia by Gary Haven Smith

One thinks of the likes of granite, lead and rock as pretty tough stuff. But put them in the hands of Gary Haven Smith and they shimmy, bend and even dance to his will.

The New Hampshire-based sculptor has made a career of taking these materials, thick and clumsy albeit beautiful in their natural states, and turning them into waves, curves and various other states of grace.

“What he’s done is he’s really transformed the materials he works with,” said Sarah Chaffee, Gallery Director for McGowan Fine Art where Haven Smith will have an exhibit called Connections, beginning Tuesday. “He tends to work with these sort of ancient and coarse materials: lead and slate and granite. And he transforms them into something that can be almost ethereal. So when he’s taking large pieces of granite and just cutting holes right through it, it sort of takes you into the interior of the granite.”

Haven Smith is generally recognized not only as one of New Hampshire’s finest artists but one of New England’s finest sculptors, according to Chaffee. In his career, which spans nearly 40 years, Haven Smith has completed commissions that include works for the Thorne-Sagendorf Gallery at Keene State College and for Concord Hospital. Further, many of his paintings and sculptures are in private and public collections throughout the state, including the Currier Gallery of Art and the New Britain Museum of Art.

“We’ve represented Gary for any number of years, probably close to 30 years,” Chaffee said. “When we have a long-term relationship with an artist we tend to have a show for them every couple of years. That being said, that’s why I’m doing it, but the other thing is I think his work is pretty fabulous.”

Chaffee described a piece called “Line Up.” Made from granite and glacial rock, she described the piece as having, “this beautiful flow, it’s almost like fabric, it defies the material.”

“That’s why I think he’s so spectacular,” she said. “A lot of other artists look at his work and wonder how he did it. And he’s using mechanical equipment opposed to actually carving it away, so he’s figured out how he can get granite down to its finest form and not have it tumble on him.”

Another work on display will be one called “Wiggle Room.” In this large-scale sculpture, Chaffee said, Haven Smith explores curved lines and the tactility of granite by polishing some of the surface while leaving other areas raw.

In a statement from the gallery, Haven Smith says of his work with granite, “I see it as deconstructing the boulder.”

Also in the show are several of Haven Smith’s paintings, which he creates by taking carved silhouettes of flower forms and transferring them onto slate or wood. He then uses paint and metal leaf to bring out the pattern of the background.

“I always sort of feel like his work is about the negative space,” Chaffee said. “Sort of what is not there.”

Gary Haven Smith’s Show will be up at McGowan Fine Arts from Tuesday to Oct. 3 with an opening reception Sept. 5 from 5-7 p.m. and a studio tour Sept. 27. Both events are free and open to the public.

The studio tour will be at his home on Sept. 27 at 11 a.m. Those interested in attending should RSVP to the gallery at art@mcgowanfineart.com or 225-2515. The group will meet at McGowan Fine Art at 10:30 a.m. to carpool to his studio.

Connections will be on display at McGowan Fine Art at 10 Hills Ave. in Concord. Please call Chaffee at 225-2515 for more information, visit mcgowanfineart.com or email art@mcgowanfineart.com. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and by appointment.

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