Branching Out

Eyevan Tumbleweed comes out of the woodwork

The art of Eyevan Tumbleweed (aka Bennett Ewing) is a fascinating, intricate work of found wood and painstaking sculpture. The Massachusetts native, now living in Occidental, is one of a handful of artists working in this medium and the only one to incorporate wood from numerous regions.

It started as a collection, pieces of bark and branches gathered while walking the deserts of Arizona or the forests of California. Tumbleweed amassed thousands of pieces from 35 states and three countries while he experimented with designing and crafting three-dimensional sculptures with them, starting in 2002. For more than 10 years he has honed his technique of fusing hundreds of pieces of wood to form widely imaginative and hauntingly realistic visages.

“I’m simply letting the wood guide me,” Tumbleweed says. “One of the great things about this medium for me is that I’m taking what nature has already produced and I’m celebrating the beauty of that thing.”

Each piece takes Tumbleweed at least a month to complete, with upward of 500 individual pieces of wood involved in each work. No alteration of the wood takes place save for extractions, cutting small pieces off a large log. The wood isn’t carved, colored or polished, and no backing supports the piece. Tumbleweed uses hot glue, carpenters glue and a special epoxy to hold the pieces together.

Each work is a revelation to the artist. “I do consider it a spiritual thing,” he says. “When I was a little kid, I would go into the woods and see, for lack of a better word, these nature spirits or entities. Sounds kind of crazy, but whether it was my artistic mind or not, this would happen through myriad things. What I ended up doing later in life was a recreation of this experience.”

Tumbleweed grew up illustrating and writing, taking his artist name from a character in a high school comic book he thought up. After first visiting Sonoma County in 2008, Tumbleweed fell in love with the area and moved here in 2011.

He started a new wood collection from scratch, and the local landscapes’ abundant natural offerings from mountain to valley gave him an ample supply. Soon, Tumbleweed was assembling anew his signature relief sculptures. His work was immediately met with praise, though he has rarely shown in galleries around the North Bay, spending the majority of his last few years in creation mode.

In the next year, Tumbleweed is looking to increase his productivity in sculpting, as well as revisiting his illustration to craft a children’s book based on his experiences as an child. For now, with appreciation of his work growing, his pioneering artistic endeavors make him an exciting new personality on the North Bay art scene.