February, 2012    Chronogram     ... In fact, for Mack, one might say fresh ideas are his stock-in-trade. For all of his possible appellations, perhaps the most accurate is the one he uses: He is a working imaginalist. He has been creating art from natural materials for over 30 years, from grand-scale rustic design to his current work with Hudson River driftwood. “The theme is emerging selves,” Mack explains of his current work, a concept that could well be applied to the living art community he helps to foster

August, 2011 Profile in dirt

“For a full-grown man to be carving these things,” Daniel Mack reflects. “I don’t quite understand. But I don’t have to.”

Mack, a Warwick artist, writer and philosopher, was trying to fulfill his “big boy” duties of procuring unique types of wood for architectural projects like staircases and pillars in 2004. He was in Newburgh, scouring the western shore of the Hudson for quality driftwood. All he was finding was little bits of worthless bark, and it was messing with his zen.

So he took a deep breath and told himself, if you can’t be with the one you love…

Now, there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of hand-height figurines populating the shelves of his studio, all carved from bits of drift bark that are valueless as lumber. Mack calls them “anima” – a Jungian term describing female or late-life energy. Some are voluptuous in personalized wooden frames; some congregate on a stump, leaning in or standing aloof; some are bejeweled and some painted; one wears a crown of a golden twig, another of a dead honeybee.

“The mites are going to eat it,” says Mack, of the bee. “That’s the fragility. People are so interested in avoiding the decay of living. This almost celebrates it.

November, 2010  Riva Weinstein reviews the Repetition as Meditation show at Vastu

Uploading some pics of this lovely and intimate show Dan Mack curated. He'd like to continue developing the project, with new work, new venues, etc. I'm so proud to be a part of it. Now on view at Vastu in Warwick, NY. The light was low in the sky making for a beautiful drive, but not great photography. So showing just the best of what I was able to capture. Unfortunately I couldn't get a good shot of my own work, but you can see one of my pieces here on etsy.

September, 2010 Valerie Goodman Gallery Blog

Daniel Mack’s New Work
I really enjoyed seeing Daniel Mack’s new work at the outside in gallery in Piermont NY. Daniel Mack has been working with drift wood found in the Hudson for 30 years. He is famous for his chairs made out of oars and other found pieces that are in a number of museum’s permanent collections.
Recently to balance his architecture works which are long term projects and jobs that don’t satisfy his need for artistic freedom he started sculpting smaller pieces of wood into human shapes and making imaginary tools. He told me that he started this new body of work for 2 reasons: Larger pieces of wood became harder to find in the Hudson and most importantly his wife turned 55 which is the age, he explains, when women come into their own creativity. Social pressure is no longer ruling their lives and their deeper creative personality comes out, mixing masculine and feminine attributes; multiple inner “heads” develop and coexist. The tools are made from driftwood, feathers and other material. He says that in time, the purposes of these tools will reveal themselves and keeps them in tool pouch.
Mack works with children and terminally ill patients and they participate in the making of some of these pieces as collages and ensemble of tools which are found useful in relieving some psychological needs.
The pieces are spirited and vibrant alone or as a group. He complains that the art world sees the evolution of his work as a dichotomy and is not supportive of it as if he should continue making furniture the rest of his life. I think his work, old and new is meaningful and worth collecting.

Read more about his work, writing and teaching and visit his studio in Warwick, NY http://www.danielmack.com/

August, 2010         Riva Weinstein reviews the 2010 Woodlanders Gathering

On Saturday, August 23,  I spent the day outdoors making things. A simple sentence, a simple notion, a watershed experience.
How often do we spend an entire day at the computer? And how do we feel afterwards? Inspired? Dreamy? Full of new ideas? Hardly. But spend a day outdoors and something catches fire in your heart, your mind, your spirit.
There was nothing fancy about the Woodlanders Gathering in Warwick New York this weekend. But everything imaginal and wondrous. Rustic makers of furniture and art, curious creative souls who shared ideas and materials under two tents at a camp site on the grounds of the Warwick Conference Center. It was the middle of the woods, and the heart of the world. A campfire, a tarp filled with goodies for swapping: books, branches, bones. For natural material enthusiasts, it was a candy store for heart and mind. And so much more. Dan Mack is the founder and fire behind the Woodlanders Gathering, now in its 18th and 19th years in the Midwest and here on the East Coast. His imaginal wood carvings from found Hudson River driftwood, furniture building expertise and generous spirit of sharing, have created an event that is as much, if not more, about community as it is about being introduced to new skills and ideas. It’s radical in gentler way than Burning Man. Complete with its own Wicker Man.
I’d been lurking on the virtual site for years and finally found myself there in body. I reconnected with Lynn Hoins a poet I’d met some years ago at a workshop I gave on making time for art. Lynn opened up worlds about journal writing for writers and non-writers alike, in the space of a short hour. Others showed us how to make Maori healing tools and systrums (an ancient Egyptian rattle form). Dan’s driftwood was on hand with small carving knives, as were boxes of blank cards and Stanley tool boxes full of small nature finds from which one could begin to make personal Tarot.
There was a flute making workshop and mead-making botanical walk. But mostly there was an atmosphere of love. Of earth and art, of people and process. Lynn Hoins put it beautifully when she said: “It’s like finding your tribe.”
The Woodlander’s Gathering is on my calendar for next year, but for the whole weekend next year, camping gear and all.


August, 2008         Upstate House

Rustic Reconciliation  by Beth E. Wilson

Almost three decades ago, Daniel Mack abandoned the daily grind of a career as a television journalist and, throwing caution to the winds, made a gigantic leap of faith into the world of rustic furniture making. Initially drawn by the grounded aura of working with natural materials and the appeal of working for himself, he has become something of an evangelist for the spiritual delights to be found in sorting through a chaotic jumble of locally harvested (or, more accurately, salvaged) cedar and maple sticks, and bringing them into order as recognizable pieces of furniture.

The process of finding the proper place for each unique piece of wood is, for Mack, more of a question of collaboration than coercion; he loves the mysterious, Jungian symbolic dimension that arises from the preservation of the wood's natural forms, forms that are brought into heightened focus through their judicious manipulation into the manmade architectonics of furniture. More recently, he's captured this spirit in a series of small desktop sculptures he likes to call "imaginal objects."

Charismatic and articulate (he's written four books on rustic furniture), Mack alternates between making his own witty, sophisticated, and, yes, still rustic furniture, and outreach, teaching Zen-like workshops on rustic furniture making at Omega and organizing Woodlander Gatherings—sort of a Burning Man–style get-together for folks who work with natural materials.

A far cry from the primitive kitsch of roadside chainsaw sculptures, Mack's stylish custom chairs, tables, beds, and architectural treatments (staircases, columns, beams, and so on) unabashedly pursue the primal gasp inspired by a specific kind of beauty—beauty that draws deeply from the well of nature, thoughtfully balanced with the mundane utilitarian needs of mankind. The end result opens a new window onto a reintegrated world, offering a unique, aesthetically engaged path that mindfully reunites us with the natural world that we've always been a part of after all.


August, 1998


October, 1986, excerpt from House and Garden