Woodblossom woodworks art yakimaherald.com

The Yakima Valley is a place of beauty, growth, and diversity. The same can be said for our art community, and Naches artist Guy Brooke’s work is a perfect fit for our eclectic art scene. He combines ancient and modern methods to hew beautiful scenes from hunks of rough wood. His most popular product is custom made doors, which he markets through Woodblossom Woodworks. Brooke’s doors are often recreations of our area’s natural beauty. Among his favorites are “Buffalo Hunt” and “Eagle in Canyon.”

“A beautiful door can dress up a house real fast,” Brooke said. “I do all kinds of doors as well as arches and some furniture, and screen doors are catching on right now.” Brooke’s wood of choice is alder, a hardwood which he calls the “poor man’s cherry.” The wood grain is similar to the more expensive cherry, and alder doesn’t warp or crack.

One area Brooke doesn’t scrimp on is effort. A custom carved piece begins with a kiln-dried door from a manufacturer in Portland. The first step is sandblasting, a technique he learned while in New Mexico. There, he put that skill to use making large signs for cities. He then moved into making custom tables, chairs, dressers, and cabinets and began incorporating his love of art by carving scenes into the chairs and tables. When Brooke and his wife Barbara moved to Naches, he decided to focus on doors.

The Colorado native has called the Valley home since moving here during the monster snow season of 1996. One draw for him was the fact that Yakima is so similar to the Four Corners area of New Mexico, where he served as a music pastor after Bible college. It is also where he learned woodworking as a means of supplementing his income. He now puts his self-taught traditional hand carving skills to use in his 384-square-foot shop. He noted that often the sale of a door leads to additional work.

“Folks almost always want something else,” he said. He has been hired to gut and remodel a bathroom and to add custom window frames to go with a new door. His current project is a large arch that will rise above a recent door and side panel installation. Such work begins with a visit to measure and size up the project. Using photos, Brooke will create a plan and get client approval. “The next step is to use my illustration and draw it out on paper. Then I make an overhead image and enlarge it onto the wood. From there I outline the scene with sandblasting and finally carve the illustration into the wood. It turns out a really nice contrast,” he explained.

While Brooke pointed out that the customer determines the theme, many local orders are for outdoor scenes with quail being a particular favorite. He is also branching out with a new product — Retro-Racks, which he described as functional art, “where old wood and posters collide.” He explained “Customers can provide their own photo, poster, or choose from one I have made.”

He uses old orchard props to create the custom-designed racks, which can hold everything from a coat and hat, a wine bottle and glasses or even a guitar. The guitar racks have proven most popular. Brooke is in the process of applying for a trademark for the name Retro-Racks. His plan is to sell them in catalogs.

The father of two and grandfather of five is a busy man. In addition to custom woodworking, growing blueberries, and teaching guitar, he has written two fantasy adventure stories aimed at tweens and young teens as well as “Pepper the Preschool Puppy” for younger children. He hired a student from a Florida art school as his illustrator and self-published them. But even with a social media presence, Brooke said marketing remains a hurdle for artists, especially for authors, where the competition numbers in the millions. Seeking ideas, Brooke Googled websites for Yakima artists and ended up at YakimaArt.com

“I can be as creative as I want all day long and have the best product in the world but if nobody knows about it, what good is it? That is the biggest hurdle to being an independent artist,” he explained. The exposure from an affordable online marketplace like YakimaArt.com can make all the difference. “The website has been very helpful to me as a selling tool. It also helps spread the word because there is nothing better for selling art than word of mouth.” The website serves as an information and promotional page for regional artists and events. Featured media on the site ranges from fired clay and wood creations to jewelry and paintings. Visitors can also find listings for local studios, galleries and displays, and links to artists’ websites.