William Daggett’s sculptures start in a place many may not expect – the forests of northern Arizona and southern Utah. Each year, Daggett takes several days and hikes many miles in search of the perfect juniper branches to transform into beautiful, moving sculptures.
Local residents can see Daggett work his magic on the juniper limbs during the Arizona Fine Art EXPO, taking place from Friday, Jan. 15 – Sunday, March 28 under the “festive white tents” at 26540 N. Scottsdale Road.
The Arizona Fine Art EXPO, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, features 120 patron-friendly artist studios in a 44,000 square-foot space, where guests have a rare chance to meet the artists, see them in action, and learn about their journey, inspiration and techniques.
Throughout the 10-week event, patrons can enjoy watching artisans sketch in rapiograph, pencil, charcoal and pastels; sculpt and fire clay; chisel, carve and shape stone; scratch and etch on porcelain and clay board, and saw and carve wood sculptures. Artists will also paint in all media; stain and etch gourds; design lost wax casting; design and create jewelry; and assemble mosaics. Art is for sale during the event and commissions are welcomed.
A developer by trade, Daggett has spent his career working on commercial, residential and custom home projects. He’s always enjoyed creating new things and has tried his hand at stained glass, furniture building and jewelry design. He found his true passion 15 years ago when he began carving wood.
“I started with a chainsaw, caving bears and eagles. It wasn’t rewarding enough so I moved on to cottonwood bark carving,” says Daggett. “Then I discovered a twisted piece of juniper while walking our dog in Utah. I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Daggett backpacks out interesting limbs from dead trees during his forest searches. In a typical three-day trip, he’ll see thousands of trees and come home with fewer than 20 pieces of wood for his sculptures.
After he returns home, Daggett takes time to decide with his wife what each piece of wood should become. Once he has a vision for the piece, he uses both hand and high-speed tools to create the shape he’s looking for. He then begins the painstaking process of sanding the piece, working his way through five different grits of sandpaper and finishing with hand rubbed Danish oil.
A finished piece can take Daggett anywhere from a 40-hour week to several months to complete.
EXPO organizers are working closely with city officials to ensure the safety of this year’s artists, staff and visitors. The event will follow all Centers for Disease Control recommendations, including requiring masks and social distancing for all patrons and artists in attendance. Artists will receive daily temperature checks and each studio will have hand sanitizer available for patron use.
The annual event is one of Arizona’s premier venues for collecting fine art. Season passes cost $10; season passes for seniors and military are $8; and children under 12 are free. Parking is free.
For more details about the event or participating artists, call 480-837-7163 or visit ArizonaFineArtEXPO.com.