Ron Swanson on art and making things out of wood
Posted on 05 June 2012
We're huge fans of the television show Parks and Recreation, and are even bigger fans of the character Ron Swanson, a surly, thickly-mustached small town libertarian with an appetite for bacon and brunettes. His worldview is on display in this speech he gives at a government-sponsored art show:
"Ok, everyone, shut up and look at me. Welcome to Visions of Nature. This room has several paintings in it. Some are big and some are small. People did them and they are here now. I believe that after this is over they will be hung in government buildings. Why the government is involved in an art show is beyond me. I also think it's pointless for a human to paint scenes of nature when they could just go outside and stand in it. Anyway, please do not misinterpret the fact that I am talking right now as genuine interest in art and attempt to discuss it with me further. End of speech."
Swanson is played by the actor Nick Offerman, who grew up not far from the small Illinois farm town where the Meerkat and I were born. He's married to the actress Megan Mullally and before he came to L.A. he was deeply involved in the Chicago theater scene. But what makes him fascinating to me is that in addition to being an actor Offerman is a master woodworker. He has a workshop in Los Angeles and makes beautiful things out of wood, including gorgeous canoes.
AP Photo/Jessica Glazer
Offerman has written a post called "Obsessed: Woodworking", where he talks about the joys of being obsessed with the art of shaping wood and the pleasures of creating and the satisfaction of the final touches on something lovingly crafted:
"It's a happy hive of activity, where everything we do leads to the ultimate climactic payoff for any woodworker: the application of the oil finish. Linseed oil, tung oil, or walnut oil, with a little beeswax mixed in. Oiling wood which has been shaped and sanded and smoothed is indescribably pleasurable. Witnessing the grain and depth of color and figure come alive through the saturation of the oil finish feels akin to playing a rousing symphony or golfing a hole-in-one. I imagine. I don't golf."
You can read the rest of his article here.