Knock on Wood: James Schwarz Hopes to Dazzle with Woodchip Mosaics

Written by Deborah Lewis Category: Visual Arts Issue: March 2016
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James Schwarz has a background in theater. Not on the stage, but building it. He's a scenic carpenter, to be precise, surrounded by a world of 3-D art, with all the world his diorama. Schwarz is currently studying ceramic art at Mesa Community College and chiseling his way into the heart of the local art world.

"Big Lake" - 4' x 4' / Courtesy James Schwarz / $300Last fall, he was busy building ceramic tiles for large mosaic murals when he jumped at an opportunity to show at the Phoenix Festival for the Arts. The rub: The festival was in three days, and his clay wasn’t dry. So, what’s a mural artist to do? Necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes, so invent he did.

Schwarz grabbed his trusty staple gun and quickly scouted for new materials. Thankfully, the pixies in the woodchips called out to him. On a large wood panel, he adhered the chips, one at a time, assembling and tinting the pieces to match a favorite photograph he had taken of the White Mountains. Presto! A new art form was born: woodchip mosaic à la Schwarz.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck was…an artist? We’re thinking slow and steady by commission. Guaranteed, his works won’t be in this price range for long. They start around $300 for a 4-foot square mural. Contact Schwarz through his Facebook page.