Dance of the Sticks
by Paul Downs, at the New Deal Cafe Art Gallery (Back Room)
February and March 2019
Paul Downs has created a style of art using sticks, twigs and other found natural items that is one-of-a-kind. Instead of using charcoal or paint he renders his designs of animals, nature scenes and Native Americans using local found materials as the medium for his artistic creations. “My palette is the white oak, the wild black cherry, tulip poplar, pine, sassafras, red twig dogwood and maple sticks,” Downs said. For nearly 35 years he has honed his skill down a trail no one else has ventured. His artistic expressions range from the power of wing-stretched soaring owls to a delicate locust to a portrait of the great Chief Red Cloud to three-dimensional Mud Dancers. He brings the viewer into a world of color and design and seemingly gravity-defying wallhung sculptures that will delight and amaze – while at the same time bringing the peacefulness one would gain from a walk in the woods.
Downs, a native of Greenbelt, grew up exploring, playing and falling in love with the woods– the Great North Woods, as he called them – of Greenbelt. When this belt of green came under the threat of development in the late 1980s, Downs became a leader in the successful crusade to save these woods – now named the Greenbelt Forest Preserve. In 2017, 15 years after the forest was put into the protection of the forest preserve ordinance by the Greenbelt City Council, Downs was named Outstanding Citizen at the Labor Day Festival – thereby honoring the work he and the Committee to Save the Greenbelt did to save our namesake – the Green Belt.