Paintings by Sam Hamilton of Possum Hollow Woodworks, 11121 Possum Hollow Road, St. Paris, will be shown at The Golden Thread, a gallery in Pittsburgh, from Nov. 19 to Dec. 25, according to show coordinator Courtney Padrutt.
Hamilton’s landscapes and farm scenes, many from Champaign County, sketches and vignettes will be on display along with work in a variety of mediums by eight other artists from several states.
Padrutt learned of Hamilton’s artwork through Sam’s oldest son, Jason, while Jason was studying for an associate degree in Visual Communications and Illustration at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
Sam’s body of two-dimensional work encompasses watercolor, oil, acrylic, pastel, pen and ink and gouache. His paintings and sketches have been shown in private and public exhibits and are part of several personal collections.
But, he is probably best known locally for his authentic, museum-quality restorations and reproductions as well as repair and renewal of artifacts, antique furniture, clocks, musical instruments, historic architecture and vintage horse-drawn vehicles – sleighs and buggies a specialty.
Meticulous in method and a purist in design and materials, Sam has hand crafted vital parts, no longer manufactured, for repair of vintage pianos and organs, extending the beauty and usefulness of priceless instruments.
He has built 27 Kentucky rifles to authentic period design, using the vintage tools that the construction required; tools he inherited from his grandfather.
He has worked with the Champaign County Arts Council on theatrical productions, painting sets and once creating wood stage curtains that you had to touch to be sure they weren’t velvet.
Sam’s on-site wood chainsaw carvings have been a popular feature of area festivals and fundraisers. He donates his work for non-profit organizations and charitable causes.
He has carved storybook characters from childhood fiction and brings forth life-sized woodland animals from a freestanding cut of tree trunk – -all while you watch.
Once he carved a figure of the grandfather character from the book The Bee Tree while the author, Patricia Palacco, was visiting the library. The carving is still on display there. His hand painted, chainsaw artistry radiates personality via bold, angular planes, subtle color and cunning detail.
His workshop’s inventory of useful materials includes some new products, but is mostly a collection of life’s detritus: dismembered household items, obsolete and broken machinery, old tools, wood metal and glass salvaged from razed buildings, scrap heaps and junk yards. He attends auctions, flea markets and yard sales with a keen eye for authenticity and items with potential usefulness.
Sam has often collaborated with his sons Jason and KC, both graduates of Graham High School, on projects and commissions. The boys are quick to praise their dad for nurturing their creative instincts from earliest childhood and training them in the use of tools and basic construction techniques.
“Dad is a rare combination of artist and engineer, pragmatist and philosopher,” says Jason, now established in Los Angeles as a creator of film sets and imaginative environments for public presentations of all kinds. Younger brother KC also paints, but his first love is literature and he continues to develop his writing talents.
A glimpse of the full range of the Hamilton artistry can be viewed on Facebook at Possum Hollow Woodworks.
Sally Johnson is a local freelance writer who focuses on arts and religion.