By Jack McShane
Having attended forestry school in my youth with an instilled love of forests, trees and most things made of wood, especially the artful, I was overwhelmed by the craftsmanship and artistry of the beautiful and sometimes intriguing productions on display in Gary Mead’s Gallery in Margaretville. He very graciously provided a tour for the Andes Roundtable. Gary has an incredible talent both in the woodworking craft and in his ability to take what might be considered to be a log of poor quality, because of poor shape, species or internal rot and somehow see its potential. This mental acuity and vision enables Gary to produce, after much thought and effort, very fine and unique pieces of furniture, one of a kind tables, chairs and cabinetry or thought-provoking sculptures.
Gary is a very spiritual guy with poetry and writing skills like no other. Often when working on a special piece he will stop to write prose or poetry about the connection of the resource he is using to mankind and the necessity to protect the woodlands that produce his treasured wood. He is very aware of the need and importance of getting out the word about sustainable harvesting practices, and will sometimes get up in the middle of the night to write about them. His often ethereal thoughts are always pertinent, whether about the forests and their inhabitants, our relationship to them or morality in general.
When I made use of the dry kiln that he runs to dry some larch beams that I had cut for the house I was building back in 1997, Gary made it a point to come to the building site to make sure that the moisture content was on par with beams already installed, an important factor in homebuilding. This was over and above what I was paying for, but is an example of Gary’s integrity and passion to treat customers with top of the line service.
The Gallery is located on the same site as his lumber mill which includes a de-barker, sawmill, a dry kiln, planers, rip saws, crosscut saws and loaders for heavy lifting. Gary guided our group through it all and explained how each machine worked. It was a very informative tour. We then proceeded into the Gallery where he described each piece of furniture in detail and of what type of wood he used in its fabrication along with a reading of his prose or poetry pertinent to the piece. He patiently responded to the many questions put forth. There was a large ovation and many thanks for his hospitality.
Everyone should visit the Gallery. Gary is always very welcoming. ~