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Gene Sparling

Gene Sparling (b. 1955) was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and spent his childhood in Springfield, Missouri. As a young man, he established a home in the Ouachita Mountains, just south of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Throughout his life, Sparling has sought out wilderness–traveling, backpacking, horse packing, and kayaking through wild landscapes, but always returning to the woods of his home in the Ouachitas. With great concern for remaining wild places, Sparling has served as a voice for wildlife and habitat conservation throughout the country.

With his affinity to nature, it is no wonder that when Sparling began his career as an artist, that his medium would be tied to the natural world. He began learning to work with wood as a child, from his father, and has continued learning and honing his skill with the medium throughout his life. Sparling seeks to highlight the unique beauty of the wood in his work, while creating vessels, sculpture, and furniture that complement their natural roots and speak to the viewer.

Exhibitions of Sparling’s work include:   Into the Woods: Champion Trees by Linda Williams Palmer and Turned Wood Vessels by Gene Sparling, The Galleries at Library Square, Little Rock, Arkansas (2020); Materials Hard + Soft International Contemporary Craft Competition and Exhibition, Denton, Texas (2017, 2018); 59th Annual Delta Exhibition, Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, Arkansas (2017); Natural Ground: work by Dolores Justus and Gene Sparling, L. Ross Gallery, Memphis, Tennessee (2021); Aspects of Abstraction in the Trinity Gallery of the Historic Arkansas Museum, Little Rock, Arkansas (2010); Arkansas Sculpture Invitational Show and Sale, Argenta Community Theater, North Little Rock, Arkansas (2012, 2013); Sculpture at the River Market, Show and Sale, Little Rock, Arkansas; (2016, 2013, 2011); among others. Sparling’s work was selected for inclusion in the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s museum store offerings of original work by contemporary artists, along with the Arkansas Craft Guild, and the Ozark Folk Center, in Mountain View, Arkansas.

Gene Sparling created the 2021 awards for the Governor’s Arts Awards hosted by the Arkansas Arts Council. In February of 2021, Philip Mayeux shared his interview with Sparling on the Arkansas Arts Scene blog. Gene Sparling Interview on the Arkansas Arts Scene.

Sparling is also an active member of the Central Arkansas Woodturners Association and a member of the American Woodturners Association. He currently lives in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas where he maintains a working studio and private gallery.

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