Ten Big Standing Bronze Flowers, 2008. Bronze and stainless steel, 130 x 14 x 70 in.

James Surls: Paradox Is All We Have

James Surls is an artist of remarkable power and mystery. His wood, bronze, and steel sculptures evoke a sense of ancient, present, and future worlds, from earthly landscapes to outer space, from visible nature to the inner eye. Surls grew up in east Texas timber country, where clearing the land by hand, digging up tree stumps, chopping wood, and building barns were part of a daily regimen that fostered respect for the American work ethic, as well as an impressive knowledge of native pine, sweet gum, and oak trees. His childhood experiences of playing in wood piles and making stick horses blended the worlds of nature and human action into a seamless whole. As Surls approaches the half-century mark of his career, his work seems to be hitting stride all over again.