I grew up in the country and rather alone, and so became friendly with a number of trees: there was the one for climbing and swaying with in the wind, the one to talk to, and the one to sit under and read, draw or paint. Then, also, were their shapes and tactile delights: barks, leaves, pods, seeds, acorns, nuts. They were all my friends, and I visited them regularly. Many are gone now, devoured by development or old age, and I have moved away. They have reintegrated themselves into my present life, in my ‘country,’ my ‘art,’ as my Sacred Grove. Please honor them.
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Toni Putnam was first a painter, then printmaker, before working with three-dimensional materials. She directed her focus to metal sculpture and developed innovative techniques for welding copper sheets as seen in Sacred Grove. The idea for this Tree series came to the artist after a visit to Japan in 1991 where everything is reduced to its most essential form, and the landscape is created and shaped according to philosophic and spiritual ideals. Putnam developed a fascination with and the desire to reduce the subject of an artwork to its essence. Her Tree series demonstrates the complexity and uniqueness of the individual forms while adhering to a simple, coherent aesthetic. Additionally, she thought about the familiar images of "lollipop" trees she had drawn as a child. Combining these concepts, she conjured groves of trees, environments that are simultaneously real and imagined, serious and humorous.
In 1971, Putnam co-founded Tallix, Inc. an art foundry in Beacon, New York, and she remained a principal for fourteen years. The artist has acquired a great amount of experience in patinization processes and is often invited to lecture on the subject. Sculptures by Putnam have been exhibited in one-person shows at galleries in New York City and at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY; and in group shows at Chesterwood in Massachusetts; the National Sculpture Society, NY; the University of Alabama, Birmingham; The Palazzo Mediceo in Tuscany, Italy; and many art centers and galleries in the New England area. Sacred Grove was previously on view for a year at riverfront Green Park in Peekskill, NY.
She has exhibited extensively in the eastern United States and presented her work internationally in Tuscany, Italy and New Delhi, India. In 1996, Toni Putnam was elected as a Fellow of the National Sculpture Society of America.
Currently she is in the process of creating a book on Corncrib Barns, an endangered species of Illinois. It will be illustrated with watercolors. She continues her work in encaustic, bronze and welded copper. Her work is represented in several NY area galleries, Chicago and locally.