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Figurative, stylized, whimsical and sometimes comically odd, are the birds and beasts created by sculptor James Rivington Pyne.
A self-taught artist, his influences are many, as are the books scattered around and lining the walls of his Waldoboro studio: Ancient Egyptian Sculpture, Medieval Bestiaries and microscopic photography of strangely complex insects, are just some of the multiple references inspiring the artist’s attempts to capture in form a certain characteristic or moment in gesture and stance. Meanwhile, the view from a window of the studio frames a placid pond surrounded by tall grasses and the Maine woods, where wild birds, insects and fish feed on each other while also feeding the artist’s current imaginative foray.
What is especially poignant in encountering Pyne’s sculpture is the emotional interaction and relationship between the various figures and oneself. Certain quirks, distortions or exuberances, which are markedly human, connect us with feelings and moods so familiar: The solitary and the communal, the active and the passive, the ecstatic and the dejected; some aspect will surely touch in a direct or subtle way.
Born in Pennsylvania, educated in Massachusetts and Tennessee Pyne received his degree at the University of Pennsylvania. For 15 years he taught English in the Philadelphia public school system. A summer resident of Maine all his life, he moved to Maine permanently in 1982 to write, raise sheep and to sculpt.
Except for one class in clay modeling and another in sketching, he is self-taught. He began working with driftwood then moved to other media such as plaster, epoxies, casting stone and bronze. Many of his composite pieces consist of armatures made of steel and wood overlaid with layers of epoxy filler. Bits and pieces of wood splinters and chips resembling wings and feathers are incorporated in the epoxy; then the whole is painted with acrylics. Several sculptures are available in limited-edition bronzes.
Pyne is a member of the New England Sculptors Association and has taken part in solo and group shows in Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and South Carolina.