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Local Sculptor Dan Woodard Carves His Own Creative Niche

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Nestled on Barton St. in Redwood City, a yellow-colored house with open garage doors catches the eye of any passerby. Inside the garage, you can find Dan Woodard working on his latest fountain sculpture, which highlights the decay and imperfections of life. 

Woodard initially started off as a psychology major at UCLA. “I’ve always been interested in film, and when I was an undergrad at UCLA I was going to change my major to film. Because of the Vietnam War, that plan got interrupted,” he said. 

Woodard was able to get a deferment and served alternate service work during the war. After the war, Woodard continued to pursue his passion for filmmaking. “I went to Stanford for grad school to study film and started working in non-theatrical, corporate promotional work,” Woodard said.  

Woodard’s filmmaking has been recognized by over fifty national and international awards, including the New York International and Chicago International Film Festivals

Eventually, Woodard decided to retire in Redwood City and start his new journey as a sculptor. Woodard has always had a passion for sculptures and working with clay, even designing and building one of his homes by hand. “I have always been a lover of nature. My first wife and I bought a piece of property in Western Massachusetts and we had no power tools, electricity, and running water. We built the home entirely by hand. We canned food and had a root cellar.”

Despite being self-taught, Woodard didn’t have any trouble when he first began sculpting. “A lot of artists are very cerebral and think about what they want to do and formulate. I’m very emotional and abstract. I just put things together that I like and play around with materials until something strikes me,” he explained.

One of Woodard’s pieces, Dreams of Spontaneous Utterance, was inspired by a dream he had. “I was with friends one night and I said something that I felt was not fair to one person, and I felt bad about saying it. It turned out later that he didn’t even make any recognition of what I said, but it still bothered me. That night, in my dream, I had a mouthful of fishhooks and I was slowly, laboriously pulling them out, one by one, being very careful.”

Another sculpture features a figure with the body of a baby and the face of an old man. Woodard said, “That’s my current head and the baby body is a photo of me when I was a baby. It’s my body and head but two different time periods juxtaposed. How could that cute little baby turn into this old-looking man?”

Since becoming a sculptor, Woodard had several of his art pieces displayed at multiple galleries, including the Las Lagunas Gallery, Harrington Gallery, and San Francisco Cultural Center. Woodard is also a member of the Pacific Art League. “When I started doing sculpture, I didn’t think I’d get as involved in it as I am. I was just doing it for myself, doing things that I liked, and it was great. Most artists start off graduating from art school, and they’ve got to worry about making a living. I didn’t have to worry about making a living, which is wonderful for an artist.”

Woodard’s latest project he is creating is a fountain for his backyard. “I’m working on a fountain and the sphere on top has a sense of decay and impermanence. At some point you and I are going to be buried in the ground or become ashes flooding in the air. This piece shows how everything decays, everything disappears,” he said. The piece features blocks of cement with a smooth and elegant shell while the exposed inside is rough and decayed. 

Woodard said, “I feel artistic fulfillment all the time. I always feel good about creating any piece. If there’s a problem, I try to resolve it. When I start a project, I enjoy every stage of it. I enjoy the conception of it and the creation of it. I like seeing it come together.”

Eileen Liu is a junior in her second year of journalism. She enjoys covering local businesses in the community and environmental issues. In her free time, she enjoys photography and painting.

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