Photos and text by Danielle Robbins
Festival of Arts exhibitor Casey Parlette spends daylight hours as a fulltime Laguna Beach lifeguard, dispensing first aid, advising beach-goers and grabbing a float buoy and fins for rescues and preventative contacts.
At night, he takes up different tools, carving wood and hammering metals into intricate works of art. Inspired by the natural movement of sea life, Parlette creates representative sea life in artwork rendered from a complimentary combination of metals and natural wood.
The Parlette family’s ties to Laguna stretch back to the early 1940s. His father worked as a carpenter and contractor. His scion learned to work with woods and metals at a boy, though he never took art instruction.
Like other sculptors, Parlette possesses a talent for sizing up natural wood or metal or stone and imagining it as some sort of animal or insect in nature. He has travelled widely, including in the Amazon where he takes inspiration for his sculptures.
His works are devised from wood, bronze, brass, steel, concrete and more. Hammers, welding irons, blow-torches, sanders and rasps all come into play to achieve the character he desires.
Like good craftsmen and instrument makers, Parlette appreciates nature’s striations and tries to utilize natural grains in wood and metal to mirror natural forms in his wildlife art. For example, a commission for a tiger shark artwork will utilize a type of wood that has a natural striped texture, mimicking the naturally occurring stripes of a tiger shark.
And like found-object artists, Parlette is adept at using rescued materials and turning them into eye-catching works of art.
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