The Guitar Artist

The Japanese word wabi-sabi means a beauty that comes from irregularity (wabi) and age (sabi). It’s not about mass produced or pretty and smooth. It’s a concept, an aesthetic and a worldview. The Guitar Artist offers an inside look at the relationship between maker and his materials in the domain of music and art. read more

Doug, AKA Rusty Douglas never thought of himself as a visual artist. His first love is music. Growing up in the east-coast music scene he played drums for some notable bands back in the 70’s and 80’s. An accomplished studio musician, Doug is a talented visual artist and self-proclaimed bohemian now living in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Doug’s distinct genre of art combines musical instruments, usually electric guitars found at local pawnshops, and the art of wabi-sabi. He accomplishes this  by carefully aging and distressing the instrument then layering earthy colors ranging from browns and greens to purple.

His workshop is his front yard and his tools include chains, screwdrivers, hammers, knives, paint, nail polish and some secret ingredients he refuses to talk about. Before starting a project, Doug will leave the instrument out in the elements to age naturally. His finished pieces are remarkably beautiful exhibiting a mix of iridescent colors and the softer tones of nature. Doug’s color pallet brings to mind those you could find in a North Carolina stream; colors of a rainbow trout or the color and texture found on some strange salamander. Other colors are reminiscent of animal skins.

An eccentric personality, Doug is as comfortable speaking about music and art as he is about history, religion and politics. He lives in a small 1-bedroom house with his roommate Jennifer. They rarely miss the local open-air vegetable market on Wednesdays, the place where I first met them. Jennifer, who is a Reiki Massage Therapist, is a good match for Doug. She is the driving force behind the interior Feng Shui of their small home. The space is packed with guitars, memorabilia, books and art that Doug has been collecting for years. She rearranges the space often giving it a different look, always making sure to allow Doug space to play his guitar and write music.

Doug is a man of many personas; he’s Rusty Douglas when working on his Wabi-Sabi guitar art, Doug Douglas when he’s the drummer in the band, Duck Quack when playing guitar and Sky Douglas when practicing space music. Whatever the name he chooses to use he’s a fascinating individual and a talented artist.