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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Crafted from Wood and Stone

“The sawdust flew. A slightly sweet fragrance floated into the immediate area, neither the scent of pine nor willow, but one from the past that had been forgotten, only to reappear now after all these years, fresher than ever.” Xiao Hong The first time one encounters a creation by local artist Rick Griggs, one senses there is a story to tell. The ancient natural elements of wood and stone are sculpted seamlessly into contemporary utilitarian art masterpieces.

Rick grew up in an Air Force family, born on a U.S. Naval Base in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. The family spent most of his childhood in Missouri, Illinois, New York, and Texas. Rick credits his mom as his first creative influencer. "She was an accomplished painter and seamstress, always producing something creative." Other family members were equally inspiring: Rick's grandfather and uncle were skilled woodworkers prompting young Rick to try his hand at the craft while nurturing his growing interest in photography. Eventually, his interest became more serious, leading him to study the work of artists he respected and admired. In photography, it is Czech photographer Josef Sudek; in woodworking and furniture, it was George Nakashima and Canadian Michael Fortune. Rick states, "I am lucky to have had the opportunity to take several classes with Michael Fortune."

Rick pursued a higher education curriculum in mathematics and marketing to balance out his creative endeavors. During this time, he also developed an interest and career in radio. Rick worked on the air for eleven years before moving into a management position with the station. The move enabled Rick to become one of the pioneers in sports radio in the Seattle, Washington, market. Using this experience, Rick began his own sports radio consulting company working with networks, including ESPN and radio stations across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Finally, after 27 years in radio broadcasting, Rick was ready to move from beautiful yet dreary Seattle to the fun in the sun of Phoenix, Arizona.

“When you team the passion with desire and fortitude, embrace the challenge and setbacks, amazing things happen!"

Today, Rick has returned to his early interest in woodworking, creating in his home studio in Scottsdale, Arizona. When asked what is behind his inspiration at this point in life, Rick replies, "Two factors: The adrenalin and satisfaction in completing a piece of work; something tangible that you can see and touch. The second is seeing the enjoyment a piece creates for others and knowing my work speaks to them; that is its reward." Most of Rick's work is commission, although he is represented in several galleries, including The Finer Arts Gallery in Cave Creek and Raku Gallery in Jerome, Arizona He is a member of the Sonoran Arts League and, each November participates in the Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour. "I love meeting people and sharing my work with them. It's a great venue.

"Rick is always searching for that unusual piece of wood with a unique shape, interesting texture, and rich color. He also looks for that unique stone as an inlay to create that “one of a kind,” extraordinarily functional masterpiece. One of Rick’s favorite experiences is with a commission client that says, “Just go create something special for me.” Woodworker and artist Rick Griggs's philosophy is “When you team the passion with desire and fortitude, embrace the challenge and setbacks, amazing things happen!"


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