Traverse Classics: Rufus Snoddy's Journey North

Note: Rufus Snoddy's current exhibit, Wings of Icarus will be at Traverse City's Dennos Museum through June 02, 2013.

Traverse Classics: It's a frigid pre-spring day, and Rufus Snoddy's studio in the lower level of his Williamsburg home is nearly dark, save for a slice of gray light that filters in from the window. Half an hour ago, the power went out. And just a few minutes ago, Snoddy's daughter, Maya, called from school with a sore throat, wanting him to come and get her.

"I'll be right back – it's only five minutes away," says the soft-spoken artist, laughing but obviously rattled, offering a steaming cup of coffee from a thermal carafe. "Just wait here until I get back."

Near the window, two wooden easels hold canvases, one covered in sculptured wood that's painted a matte charcoal; the other, a 4-by-5-foot canvas layered in acrylic circles that look like cells, and underneath, a large running figure whose middle is a rectangle of sinuous wood painted red, white and blue. A sliver of a moon rises next to the figure, and above that, a circle is cut clean from the canvas.

Alone in this artist's studio, the primal vibes from these sculpted forms, the organic ripples of their textured surfaces, the glare of the piercing eyeballs and cryptic words that punctuate the works are all palpable. They boldly resonate, sometimes shout, imploring you to imagine their messages.

The brushes, knives, spatulas and containers of Nova Gel acrylic and oil paint that Snoddy uses are stacked on a worktable. A wooden stool is spattered with feisty hues, and two high-intensity lamps stand ready to illuminate the works, as soon as the power comes back.

Not long after Snoddy returns with his ailing 9-year-old, the electricity pulses and the lights spark on, revealing an entire gallery of creations that circle the room and generate voltage unlike any seen or felt in Northern Michigan.