Mendocino Arts Magazine

War Memorial, sculpture by wood carver Paul Reiber

From “Paul Reiber: Mythmaker in Wood,” an article by Peggy Templer in Mendocino Arts Magazine

For nearly forty years Paul Reiber has been on a journey, evolving from student of Greek mythology to wood carver, fine furniture maker and wood sculptor. All along the way his work has revealed a continuous thread, incorporating and refining the ideas, designs and sensibilities he acquired early on.

Paul grew up in an “artistic/intellectual milieu” outside of Washington, D.C., where the wealth of museums and galleries, as well as trips to Europe, sparked his interest in art, particularly sculpture.

Paul attended Boston University and studied Greek and comparative mythology. In the early 1970s, he came to the Bay Area to attend Star King School for Religious Leadership. As part of his theological studies he enrolled in a class in Totems taught by a Jesuit trained in the European tradition of woodcarving. The teacher brough a large block of wood into the classroom and worked with the class to identify a group totem and realize it in wood. The challenge of translating his intellectual understanding of a theological concept into a physical form captivated Paul. By this time Paul had realized that religious leadership was “not his thing,” but the wood carving aspect of the Totems class definitely was. It played right into his lifelong desire to be working with his hands. This introduction to wood was a turning point in his development as an artist. Although he had been drawing and painting since childhood, until the he had not really understood the great power that lies in “Making.” ….

See the PDF of the whole article by Peggy Templer in Mendocino Arts Magazine here.

New Settler

White Goddess, furniture by wood carver Paul Reiber

From “Sitting in the Lap of the Goddess,” an interview of Paul Reiber in New Settler

PAUL REIBER: The first thing I want to say is I feel very chosen about what I do. “When did I decide that I was going to do what I was going to do?” would be a meaningless question to me because I am pretty much deciding what I am going to do every day that I go out and do it.

As a maker of objects, I have a tremendous appreciation for objects that are made by hand instead of by mass production machinery. I was in the first class of James Krenov’s woodworking school. One of the great shocks for me in school was realizing I couldn’t make things for my peers—that I could not afford to make things for my peers. And this has always been an issue for me, and it’s not just for me, it is historically true that people that make fine objects are supported by well-t-do people. They are the only people who had the surplus wealth so they could afford it. People who are scraping along, like me—I can’t afford luxury.

And yet, I think that creating beauty in our world today is a very high calling. We live in a world that is being stripped of its beauty and beauty is rarely a criteria in choices, and it is an important criteria.

See the PDF of the whole article in New Settler here.

Woodworker West

Ancestor #2, sculpture by wood carver Paul Reiber

From “Profile: Paul Reiber,” an article in Woodworker West Magazine

Paul Reiber of Caspar, CA approaches woodworking from a spiritual perspective. Drawing upon his undergraduate studies in Greek and comparative mythology, the former seminary student uses his artistic peices to address issues of the human condition.

“As an adult living the rural life on the northern California coast, I have been part of the developing movement of environmental spiritualism, and my work as a sculptor and furnituremaker speaks of the need for the spiritual reunification of humanity and the natural world,” explains Paul. “In my choice of subject matter, I draw upon sacred images—from ancient and tribal origins to European traditions—and interpret them with a contemporary sensibility.

…From the start, his desire was to craft furniture embellished with carvings, and his early pieces were “naturalistic” in style, adorned with floral design done in high relief. Though his work has encompassed all types of furniture, his primary focus has been the chair form. “I was drawn to the design potential inherent in its curves, angles, and negative space. The visual and spatial complexity of chairs provides a canvas with room to play.”

…Today, Paul has moved from the functional to solely sculptural, working in both wood and stone. “I find this work has given me the freedom to follow my visions without any constraints of functionality.”…

See the PDF of the whole article in Woodworker West Magazine here.

Woodworker Magazine

Sun's Hands, furniture by wood carver Paul Reiber

From “Paul Reiber: The Art & Spirit of a Chairmaker,” an article by Tom McFadden in Woodworker Magazine

“The interest that I have in woodworking is image-oriented rather than process-oriented. What interest me is creating objects that have an emotional and spiritual content while working within the traditional craft concerns of function and beauty. People don’t buy my chairs because they need a chair; they buy my chairs because they need something else.

These are the words of Paul Reiber, an artist living near Mendocino California,. who draws on a background in mythology and comparative religion for inspiration for the designs he carves into his work. He is a tall man with bushy brown hair who speaks passionately about his work and his reasons for doing it. His words reveal a person rooted in spirituality and concerned about humans and the human condition, and courageous enough to follow his own vision and allow his work to evolve accordingly.

Although Paul has no formal art training beyond an art class in high school, he traces his interest clear back to his childhood. “I was always art-orineted. I have drawn all my life.” Extensive travels in Europe as a teenager allowed him to experience the art museums and galleries from another part of the world. He studied Greek in college, and in 1970 obtained his BA in Classical Studies from Boston University. He then prepared for the ministry, attending a Unitarian school, the Star King School for Religious Leadership. That was where he began woodcarving seriously. “I took a class on totems. It was taught by a Jesuit—a European-trained wood carver—who did sculpture in the round.” The totems that they carved there were “essentially religious objects.” It was this experience more than any other which turned his life in the direction of sculpture in wood….

See the PDF of the whole article by Tom McFadden in Woodworker Magazine here.

Log Home Design

Cherry Headboard, furniture by wood carver Paul Reiber

From “More Than Decor,” an article in Log Home Design Ideas Magazine, April 2004

Paul Reiber hopes his clients see his sculptures and hand-carved furniture as more than just decoration.

“I like creating objects that have a narrative content as opposed to just making something functional or pretty,” he says. “I enjoy making pieces that resonate with people so it’s something they want to have in their homes.”

As Paul sees it, his duty is to create objects of beauty that speak directly to each client.

“The feedback that means the most to me is when clients talk to me about a piece as if they have a relationship with it,” Paul says, “a relationship that gets deeper and grows each time they look at it.” He takes the collaborative process very seriously.

“Commissions are this wonderful dialogue where the artist has the opportunity to fulfill the client’s vision and make something they love,” Paul says. “That’s the blessing of custom furniture. The client gets exactly what they want.” And Paul gets something out of it too.

“It gives me the opportunity to do things I never would have thought to do,” he says. ‘But I also need to do my own thing once in a while. I like that balance.”

See the PDF of the whole article in Log Home Design Ideas Magazine here.