In addition to being a router-for-hire, Kruse does his own art, too, on wood, mostly landscapes and nature depictions. His work is on display downtown at The Artists Gallery, where he encourages patrons not to be shy and feel free to caress his creations.
The great thing about wood as a medium, he says, is its tactile pleasures. Running one’s hand along the rough-hewn grain, feeling the grooves and lines, and noticing the precision of the craftsmanship is part of the allure. And when you step back, these intersecting lines and swirling rivulets cohere into a well-wrought portrait of, say, Bernie.
The right combinations
Wood as a medium is nothing new, of course. Artists have been producing wood cuts for centuries, and sculptors sometimes choose it as a material over more precious stone. But Kruse marries the artistic with the commercial as engravings. After all, a guy’s got to make a living.
Still, the practice satisfies his artistic impulses and keeps him connected to his family in northern California’s East Bay. Both his father and grandfather were woodworkers, his father, Lee, making a living as a furniture designer and cabinetmakers. But whereas his forefathers were more artisans, Kruse has chosen to focus more on the artistic.
“I’ve always been fascinated with wood,” said Kruse, running a hand along his close-cropped salt-and-pepper hair. “I like what weather does to wood. I do a lot of landscape and trees in my work, where it’s almost kind of like it all comes full circle. Wood to wood to make it into a tree. That kind of thing.”