Saturday, July 6 2013 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
An exhibit celebrating the work of wood carver Edward “Pudge” DeGraff and his wife Mary opens Saturday, July 6, at the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay.
“We are thrilled with the amazing number of folks who reached out to us and were willing to loan their precious one-of-a-kind DeGraff carvings to us for the exhibit,” said the Museum’s Executive Director Bob Desh, whose fascination with the couple’s work dates to the original piece he received as a gift. “The whimsical characters have traveled here from as far away as Waltham, Mass and Toronto Canada to join their wooden cousins in our Reddin Bridge Room gallery. Over one hundred of Pudge and Mary’s extraordinary works are on display in the exhibit. This may very well be the largest number of DeGraff carvings ever displayed. I doubt that Pudge ever had this many carvings in his gallery at one time.”
The sheer volume of contributed works stunned Desh and Assistant Curator June Larson, whose task it was to produce the exhibit. Filling the walls and available flat space, Larson effectively presents the wide variety of works that Pudge carved and Mary helped bring to life with her paint brush.
Pudge began carving in the 1930’s as a Boy Scout, spent his free time in the Navy developing his whittling skills and eventually resigned from his full-time job to pick out the knife on a full-time basis.
Pudge, Mary and family moved to Sturgeon Bay in 1969 and the Whittler’s Workshop became one of the city’s most popular galleries. Pudge and Mary eventually produced thousands of works, many carrying the maritime theme so appropriate on the peninsula, until Pudge’s death in 1997. Mary died in 2010.
Being in a maritime museum, many of the works are nautically themed, but the exhibit also attempts to display the wide range of work turned out by the DeGraffs.
The exhibit will continue through Sunday, Nov. 3. The museum is open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. through Labor Day and 10-5 thereafter. For more information contact the museum at 920-743-5958 or visit www.dcmm.org.