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Still Crazy After 15 Years

Catching up with Jud Turner on the eve of his first open studio and sale in more than a decade
'Praxiteles' by Jud Turner
'Praxiteles' by Jud Turner

Local found-object sculptor Jud Turner has been working nonstop for decades, but he hasn’t had an open studio showing his work for 15 years. While his work is collected internationally, many in Eugene have never seen his art face to face. This weekend, Sept. 11-13, he will be showing more than 100 works, many of which have never been shown in Eugene and some that were completed this past week.

Why have you waited 15 years?

Typically I’ve been working with galleries more in the last 15 years to show and exhibit and sell my work. It gives me an opportunity to do it myself. Galleries are changing. A gallery I show at in London [Woolf Gallery] is doing less of international shows because it costs so much to go out of the UK. Shipping can eat up a lot of the profit. And very honestly, a studio sale like this, it gives me a chance to sell work at a slightly more affordable price than you’d find in a gallery.

What can people expect?

I’ve got 100-plus pieces of work ranging from 25 years old to stuff I did last week. There’s not a lot of gallery opportunities in Eugene. There are less opportunities for people in my home town to see the work. It’s a lot more meaningful to see the work and hear the origin story. I’ll be here to talk about process and just talk about the work. It’s really like an open studio, an open house.

And will your studio manager, Ziggy the Pig, be there?

[Laughs.] Yes, he will be here to discuss his studio management. [Read more about Turner and Ziggy the Pig here.]

Tell us about the new work?

­I’m continuing with Watership Down — it’s underpinning some of the work lately. Rabbits made from found objects and motorcycle bits. I just finished the Fox from the Fantastic Mr. Fox for a local family, but it will be in the show.

Why Watership Down?

I saw the cartoon as a kid and it totally scared me and traumatized me. It’s got bloody rabbits and rabbit-on-rabbit violence. It’s definitely not a kids movie, but a lot of parents from my generation made that mistake. I listened to the book in the studio; it’s got such a rich story. There’s some really nice human analogies and stories in there. Rabbits have very human motives, greed and such. I’d highly recommend it. The gallery V Projects in St. Louis is doing a whole show with me based on Watership Down.

Reflections on the recent passing of his friend and local chef Gabriel Gil:

I had a piece that was a skull flower, a lotus with a mirror, that Gabe really liked that I loaned to him for Soubise [Resturant]. When Soubise closed down, I brought it back to my studio. Pretty much 24 hours after Gabe passed away the piece fell off the wall and broke. Nothing bumps that wall. I’m the only one in the studio. There were 2-inch nails into the wall. The way it broke it can’t be fixed. No, it didn’t spook me. I said, “Hey fucker, you broke it. Thanks for saying ‘Hi,’ but you broke it.” [Laughs.]

Jud Turner hosts an open studio and sculpture sale 4 to 9 pm Friday, Sept. 11, 10 am to 6 pm Saturday, Sept. 12, and 10 am to 3 pm Sunday, Sept. 13. For more info, visit judturner.com.

Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.