Wood Talks To This Craftsman

Weekend show will draw Rim Country artists, including Joseph Prow who turns wood bowls into works of art


Joseph Prow has turned fine-grained wood into an art form.

Joseph Prow has turned fine-grained wood into an art form. Photo by Teresa McQuerrey. |

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When Joseph Prow looks at a piece of wood, he never sees just wood — he envisions something of extraordinary beauty.

He will be sharing that beauty this weekend at the Payson Art League’s ARToberFEST Oct. 19, 20 and 21 at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino Event Center.

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Joseph Prow is one of the artists whose work will enliven the ARToberFEST on Oct. 19-21 at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino Event Center.

“The grain and the colors are inspiring,” he said of the wood he turns into artwork.

Prow first learned to work with wood in high school. Later he installed Amish cabinetry and learned from the perfection of their wood crafting.

Prow collects wood for his art from the many places he and his wife Ann have visited.

“I can tell you the story of where each piece of wood I have collected comes from,” Prow says on his Web site, finewoodcreationsbyjoseph.com. Visit the site to learn and see more.

“I try to find pieces of wood that are different,” he said. Most of his work features layering and segments of different woods, but on occasion he will come across a piece that is large enough to make a single creation. For instance, he fashioned one piece for the show from a single piece of Chinaberry wood.

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Joseph Prow

“We were driving somewhere and they were cutting this tree down and we were able to get the wood,” Prow explained.

Most of his works are utilitarian, such as ring boxes and salad bowls, but he also has large decorative pieces. One of his largest creations was a 55-pound bowl.

“The man who bought it carried it out like he was hugging it and said, ‘I have the perfect space for this,’” said Ann.

The large pieces can take up to two weeks to make, but the smaller works also involve a fair amount of time — primarily because every piece has seven coats of finish, and almost all of the bowls have a salad bowl finish as well, sealing them for use with food.

The most rewarding thing for Prow is when people come up to him and say, “‘Remember me. I bought …’ and I do. It’s kind of like a cult,” he said.

The Prows came to Payson from Chicago 11 years ago. While he has been working with wood most of his life, he did not begin selling his pieces until about a year ago when his children helped him design his Web site. He will have up to 40 works in the PAL show this weekend. The ring boxes will sell for around $60, with the other works going for $235 and up, depending on the intricacy of the design.

This is the first year Prow has taken part in the PAL fall show; he was also a participant in the group’s spring open studio tour.

Prow will join more than 20 other artists in the show, which is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 19 and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20 and Sunday, Oct. 21.

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