Woodworking masters featured at First Friday art show

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The Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center features Fairbanks woodworking artists Steve Ratzlaff and John Unruh. Both create utilitarian art that reveals the beauty and complex patterns in the wood from our own backyard.

“People should come out because it’s two master craftsman doing what they love and showcasing their love of woodworking,” said Hanna Rafferty, Park Guide for the Alaska Public Lands Information Center inside the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center. “It’s a pretty unique display.”

John Unruh’s life-long passion in woodworking began at the age of eight making yard signs. As his skills improved, he made larger projects such as cedar and toy chests and lathe turned art. During a long career in business in the US with projects in Canada, Japan and Slovakia and teaching MBA marketing and entrepreneurship courses in Europe and globally, he continued to work with wood as a hobby.

“I am pleased that my work continues to grow in acceptance,” Unruh said. “When I select a piece of wood for turning, I am always surprised at the beauty that is revealed. It is a pleasure to be able to share that beauty with you and your family,” he added.

Steve Ratzlaff has been working with wood for over 20 years as a carpenter and construction teacher, but recently began creating artwork. The pieces he has produced this winter are focused on the possibilities and beauty of Alaskan birch. He enjoys working with local birch because the grain and natural defects can make surprisingly complex patterns in the finished product.

This event is from 5-8PM on April 7th.