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Arts and Entertainment

Chairs that rock

Local artist’s divorce sets him free to pursue his dreams –carving art that’s winning in national shows

You won’t find your grandmother’s rocking chair among the sculpted bronze, bamboo and zebra wood chairs in Kevin DesPlanques’ collection. But you will find a comfortable seat.

“I get the ergonomics absolutely perfect,” he said.

DesPlanques, who lives between Mancos and Dolores, has spent the past four years refining his craft and expanding his designs from rocking chairs to include benches, stools and tables.

He has since been accepted into some of the most respected art shows across the county and won multiple awards, including third-place overall at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival in Florida, one of the top art shows in the country.

The Artists and Special Events Director for the art show, Katrina Delgado, said as a winner, DesPlanques’ work sets the standard for the caliber of work that will be admitted into the show this year.

DesPlanques will display some of his work at a special reception Thursday at Open Shutter gallery in Durango.

He uses a technique called stack lamination. He starts a project by gluing together a rough block and then he will shape it using grinders.

“It’s sculpting more than woodworking,” he said.

He learned the technique 14 years ago from his friend, James Cole, a former Mancos resident. He saw infinite possibilities for designing new pieces at the time

“When I saw the process, a light just came on in my head,” he said.

He seriously started pursuing his art full-time after a divorce that made him realize he should chase his dreams. Previously, he taught industrial arts at Dolores High School and San Juan Basin Technical College. When he first started, he struggled getting into art shows, but now a full schedule of shows keeps him busy traveling across the country.

“I’ve gotten pretty good at bringing out pretty bold and defined lines on my chairs,” he said.

He has also branched out into new materials.

About two years ago, he started using bamboo for some furniture because it is a sustainable product. As a member of the grass family, it grows much faster than wood.

He also recently completed what he believes is the only rocking chair in the country made out of bronze. He started experimenting with bronze, so his customers could leave the furniture outside.

If you go

Kevin DesPlanques will display some of his latest work in Durango from 6-8 p.m. Thursday at The Open Shutter Gallery, 735 Main Ave. For more information, call 382-8355 or visit www.sublimerockers.com.

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