Once in a while we see art with a marvel of design and beauty created with a genuinely creative eye. It's an even longer period to find an artist that's consistently hitting the highest marks with imaginative works that redefine his field. The time is right to introduce Norm Friar. His complex designs, creative solutions, and new ways of breaking expectations are creating works that are absolutely timeless.
Friar’s impact to the arts is along par with the size, complexity, and beauty of his projects. At first glance we are seeing breathtaking works that there's never been a precedent for. On closer inspection we are left speechless in awe of the seemingly unlimited time it must take to complete his works and of the magnitude of consistently creating works that continue to impress. From wood, stone and steel, to acrylic on canvas we’re now seeing someone that demonstrates no limits in the size, scope, type, materials, complexity and success of his projects.
Although Friar has demonstrated no boundaries of materials to work with, he prefers to focus on perhaps the most unforgiving of them all - hardwoods. Few attempt to go so far as to start with a living tree and go through the lengthy process to form it into a vision that is expected to capture attentions for centuries. Yet from the chainsaw to the finish Friar literally bends the wood to his will. Unyielding in its temperament to swell, warp, fade, and crack hardwood takes something beyond a simple mindset to form an amazingly detailed piece with hundreds of individual sections. At a glance his chests are recognizable by the frequent use of the dovetail spline key, which is the strongest and most difficult dovetail style joint to accomplish. The fits are so tight that it looks as though they've been stained into the surface. Every example is attention dominating in the room. There’s no trim, plugs, veneers, or overlaps that are commonly used to hide construction details and discrepancies. There are no screws, nails, brads, staples, modern or artificial fastening, or staining/coloring of any type other than the natural colors of different species.
The most obvious results of his work are one of a kind head tilting, jaw dropping, and original designs. As artists know all too well such endeavors outside of the box are a risk to be found worthy by the larger society. What we’ve found is nothing short of success in every one of his attempts. What we’re seeing arrive today is an innovator with seriously creative, busy, and thriving endeavors, and I believe what we’ll see tomorrow from Friar will be seen in museums worldwide.
Karl Simms - The Upstate Curator - August 2017