Artists of the Methow Valley and beyond

© Gary C Harper
© Gary C Harper

Bernard Hosey

1948-2012

  • 206-450-4414
  • bernard[at]bernardhosey.com
WA

Mediums:

  • Sculpture

About The Artist

Bernard Hosey was born 1948 in Williams Lake, British Columbia, Canada. He moved with his family to Burien, Washington, USA in 1956.  In 1962 the family moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada and then returned permanently to Burien in 1965.

Bernard was from a long line of metal workers. His father was a tool and die maker and his grandfather and great-grandfather were blacksmiths. He grew up making things with any material at hand but mostly of metal and always with a distinct aesthetic orientation.

Committed to art from his childhood, Bernard studied at several schools including the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with concentrations in fine art, engineering and metal technology.  He graduated with an MFA from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, in 1981, studying with Brent Kington and Richard Mawdsley.  At SIU he developed his main lines of investigation, tending toward dynamic formal structures with a classic sense of beauty.

A tall man, with big bones, Bernard was very strong and enjoyed the physical challenge of larger work.  His first works were jewelry scale, due mainly to opportunity, but he soon gravitated toward blacksmithing and larger fabricated work. His exhibition record dated from 1976, and the “Solid Wrought/USA” show that originated at SIU toured the USA for several years. Bernard had a restless, inquiring intellect that explored many aspects of the art world, metal technology and the natural sciences.

After graduating from SIU, Bernard returned to the Seattle area and worked at a steel yard while developing his own work.  His work included architectural metalwork as well as freestanding pieces. His most significant piece during this period of his career is probably a
freestanding steel staircase at his brother Harry’s house.  At his studio in Redmond he completed his first monumental sculptural work, “Alaska Totem”. The 35-foot tall work is placed at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.  His main gallery representation during the 1980s was through the Francine Seders Gallery in Seattle.

In 1989 he moved his studio and home to the Methow Valley on the east slope of the North Cascade Range in Washington State.  The Valley is quiet, incredibly beautiful and remote, with a strong artistic community.  It provided space, inspiration and the seclusion that Bernard found most important in pursuing his work.  He maintained his many contacts on the “Westside” and his house and shop became a focal point in the artistic life of the Valley. 

He worked out of a rented industrial space in Twisp for many years and later built his own studio.  His approach to tools and equipment was very functional; he was definitely not a collector.  But tools he did have, including a 200-ton hydraulic forming press and a semi truck with a 50-foot knuckle boom for moving and placing his sculpture.

At his studios in the Methow Valley, Bernard brought to maturity several lines of work and achieved international stature.  One of the lines of exploration was a series of monumental fabricated steel sculptures that used forged iron forms as a point of departure.  This work reached its greatest size, 40ft high, in a series made for urban art symposia in China from 2006 to 2011.  “Three Elements” in Urumqi, Xinjiang Province and “Departures” in Tangshan, Hebei Province were both fabricated from models on the site under his direct supervision.

A second series, “The Spheres” was started in 2003. Bernard completed about 80 sculptural spheres ranging in size from 1.5 ft. to 12 ft. in diameter. Two very large spheres, “Uno Grande” in Taizhou, Jiangsu Province and “Infinite” at Tsinghua University, Beijing were fabricated under his direction in China.  The “Sphere” series proved to be a success on many levels; the form could be dealt with as surface and volume, with a possibility of textural treatment. It referenced a basic physical shape engraved in the human unconscious, from atoms to stars and provided an initial bridge of comprehension that could lead the viewer to explore the particularities of the work.  Sometimes his approach was organic as in “Entro”, purchased by the Pigott family and donated to TwispWorks, a civic and cultural institution in the town of Twisp, Washington, and sometimes more geometric as in his last work, “Transcendence”, in the public art collection of the City of Yakima.  “CrissCross” (2011) placed at NordArt, Büdelsdorf, near Kiel, Germany is another geometric oriented sphere made of one continuous line.  Starting in the late 2000’s Bernard was represented by the Woodside-Braseth Gallery in Seattle, Washington.

Throughout his life Bernard preferred to work by himself in his studio, with help from others on an infrequent basis.  He did not like the distraction of supervising others and in-studio collaboration was of no interest to him.  Luckily, others were able to aid him in his work by providing business services, promotional abilities, and the back office organization that any producing art studio requires to function.

Bernard Hosey died August 2012. He was such a vital force that one of his friends said he could not believe it had happened, feeling that Bernard was “above such mundane things”.  Bernard was a complex and exuberant, practicing artist who was a lot of fun to be with and who never stopped growing.

Phillip Baldwin
Designer/Metalsmith