Editor's note: The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at Saginaw Valley State University provided the following texts to Resource Library. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum directly through either this phone number or web address:


David Hostetler, Wood and Bronze Sculpture

October 12, 2007 - January 26, 2008


Renowned sculptor David Hostetler will display his works at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at Saginaw Valley State University. "David Hostetler, Wood and Bronze Sculpture" opened at the Museum October 12, 2007 and marks his first Michigan exhibition in some 60 years as an artist. The exhibition continues through January 26, 2008. (right: David Hostetler in his studio, Athens, OH, photo by Larry Hamill Lambert. Photo courtesy of Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum)

Hostetler's work has been included in over 200 group shows and has been the subject of one-person exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the United States.

His work also is in numerous public collections, including Trump International Hotel & Tower, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Kennedy Library, Boston; Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; Columbus (Ohio) Museum of Art; Milwaukee (Wis.) Museum; Speed Museum, Louisville, Ky.; Montgomery (Ala.)Museum of Fine Art; and De Cordova Museum, Lincoln, Mass.

"Hostetler's sculptures are undeniably unique and intriguing works of art, said Marilyn Wheaton, Director of the Fredericks Sculpture Museum. "His passion for and interest in the female form and persona, the feminine mystique, is remarkable and unmistakable,"

A graduate of Indiana University, Hostetler was awarded a Master of Fine Arts degree from Ohio University where he taught for 37 years. He retired from teaching as a professor of sculpture in 1985 and is now Professor Emeritus. David and his wife Susan Crehan-Hostetler divide their time between Athens, Ohio and Nantucket, Mass.

"I've never been to Bay City, Midland or Saginaw. I'm looking forward to this because everyone tells me how wonderful the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum is," said Hostetler from his Nantucket studio. "I'm looking forward to sharing my women with others. Anyone who loves my women is a friend of mine," added Hostetler with a chuckle.

David Hostetler is the creator of a series of captivating works that celebrate the female form. Inspired by goddesses and women of historical significance, Hostetler has based his life's work on honoring the spirit, romance and earthiness of "the feminine" in exotic woods and in bronze. Whether revealing the sensuousness of the female figure or rendering visible the gift of feminine intuition, Hostetler's works are moving, intriguing and a pleasure to touch and to see.

"I love to carve wood. I am passionate about the tactile quality of wood, its color, it's connection to humanity."

Hostetler's current focus is the goddess, and he finds himself peculiarly inspired by the Semitic "Asherah". Thousands of years ago Phoenicians and Canaanites carved her image from living trees, as Hostetler does now in exotic woods of glorious grains and color.

"Exotic woods such as Zebra, Pink Ivory, and Ziricote are among some of the most exciting woods I have carved into sculptures. The grain and color are a challenge to incorporate into my vision, but the sculptures are rare and unique."

Hostetler has earned wide acclaim for his unique treatment of the feminine form in wood and bronze. His artwork has been featured in films, on television and in newspapers, magazines, and books. His biography David L. Hostetler The Carver was published by Ohio University Press in 1992. He received his undergraduate degree from Indiana University and a master's degree at Ohio University, where he taught sculpture for 38 years and was honored by being named Professor Emeritus.


(above: David Hostetler, Eternal, 1998, Bronze, blue green patina, 7'6"h, Base: steel plate, 29"d)


Documentary Film

Saginaw Valley State University hosted the premiere of a documentary film on the work of an Ohio sculptor. "David Hostetler: The Last Dance" on October11, 2007.

Produced by Too Much Media LLC, the 30-minute version of the documentary features Hostetler's entire body of work, with a focus on "The Last Dance," a recent sculpture that is in the David Hostetler, Wood and Bronze Sculpture exhibition at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum. Producer Keith Newman and director Casey Hayward were given unlimited access to Hostetler and his vast archives; their film is the first documentary to feature him.

Newman and Hayward plan to show their documentary at film festivals, gallery shows, and on public broadcasting stations following the premiere. They are excited about bringing the film to SVSU.

"You will see the process from the moment the tree is cut down to the finished product, a beautiful female form, one of David's stunning women," said Newman.


(above: David Hostetler, Tribal Figure, 1999, Patinated bronze, 8'10"h)


(above: David Hostetler, The Last Dance, 2007, Box Elder wood, burned black and painted white, 5'3"h x 36"w x 12"d)


(above: David Hostetler, Asherah Tree Goddess, 2006, Catalpa, poplar burl, tree root crown, 11' 7"h x 4'w x 3'd)


Catalog text

David Hostetler, Wood and Bronze Sculpture

October 12, 2007 - January 26, 2008



David Hostetler has been called wood carver, direct carver, sculptor, painter, potter, jazz musician, print maker, technician, free-thinking educator, drummer and iconoclast. After spending twenty-four hours with David and his gracious wife Susan at their Coolville Ridge Farm in Athens, Ohio, I can attest that David is all of those things. I would add some descriptive adjectives to those names, including passionate, creative, powerful, and affirming.
In preparation for the exhibition David Hostetler, Wood and Bronze Sculptures, I decided to experience the art and the artist in their most natural environment. When I arrived at Coolville Ridge Farm on a mild December afternoon, David was working in his carving/sculpting studio. Watching him with a chisel in one hand, a mallet in the other, and a discerning look on his face a few inches from an exotic tree trunk, I knew I was watching a very good artist do what he does best, which is carving tree trunks and logs into exquisite women. I believe David when he says he's happiest in his studio making art.
David's passion for and interest in the female form and persona, the feminine mystique, is remarkable and unmistakable. His relationship with his wife Susan is exemplary of his esteem for women. You witness this in the quintessential respect and generous spirit he extends to her naturally in their home, in the studio, on the farm and in public. In a 2004 interview with Zina Davis, Director of the Joseloff Gallery at the Hartford Art School, David said, "Most religions are patriarchal, but nature is often portrayed as female: woman as the force of life. I am more secure with the nurturing warmth of women and the concept of the female life force than with the testosterone-ridden Olympic escapades of males."
David's sculptures and paintings are undeniably unique and intriguing works of art. The Biography in the 2006 exhibition catalogue, Hostetler at The Gallery at Penn College, effectively sums up David's work: "David Hostetler is the creator of a series of original and captivating works in wood and bronze that honor and celebrate the female form. Hostetler has based his entire life's work on capturing the spirit, romance and earthiness of 'the feminine' in exotic woods and in bronze."
During my visit to Coolville Ridge Farm I was amazed with the beauty of the raw exotic woods and indigenous hardwoods in the "tree log library," and I was in awe of the carving process that David laboriously and meticulously exerts to create majestic stylized forms and spiritual icons, all representing the female. His bronzes are cast from the wood carvings, "thereby developing the imagery with painterly patinas, brilliant coloring and polished surfaces," says David.
In addition to the Hostetler homestead and the carving/sculpting studio, Coolville Ridge Farm is home to David's "tree log library," a printing press and drawers filled with prints, a gallery of sculptures and paintings, a sculpture garden among stately trees and farm buildings, and "Dave's Place," where live jazz is performed Friday evenings for locals. For one night, I was an appreciative and admiring local.
During his 54-year art career, David has created over 1,000 pieces in his "continuous quest of the nature of woman." The pieces in this exhibition cover a wide spectrum of his work over the last decade: sculptures in natural wood, painted wood, and bronze; sculpture/paintings; a painting; and a woodcut, representing nearly all of the art mediums David has mastered in his career. It also depicts the range of topical women he has researched and fabricated, from pre-biblical times to ancient civilizations to contemporary time.
David and Susan have been extraordinarily helpful in the preparation of this exhibition. Thank you! It is my pleasure to recognize and thank other individuals who made this exhibition possible, including Carl Fredericks who suggested the exhibition; Constance L. Hughes, art consultant; Todd Carroll, Hostetler's assistant; Matthew Zivich, Professor of Art; and The Dow Chemical Company for sponsoring the exhibition.
Marilyn L. Wheaton, Director


The Last of the Bohemians

The sculptor David Hostetler, who was born in Ohio in 1926, exemplifies his generation of artists who have been caught in that limbo of seminal post- and pre-periods of sculptural styles. Born too late for the broadside of Cubism that affected artists such as Lipschitz, Hostetler arrived in time for the fallout that created those hybrids of the post-Cubist period. The look of Hostetler's work falls somewhere between the far out pieces of Jacques Lipschitz, who paid high homage to Picasso, and the rival camp of Art Deco devotees such as, say, the highly stylized sculptures of Ivan Mestrovic, whose modern notions still owe more to Italian piazza sculpture than Rodin.
Mr. Hostetler's devotion to the female form as subject matter with media that has been prevalent in Western art from the Renaissance to Julio Gonzalez is a romantic vestige of classical art that his generation of modernists has steadfastly refused to relinquish. That dependence on the female form with all its associations is clearly the forte of Mr. Hostetler. His svelte, model-like figures are coy and fashionable. Some pieces bring to mind possible earlier sculptural influences, such as the inescapable Elie Nadelman without the faux- naiveté, and to a much lesser extent that Swiss master of European angst, Alberto Giacometti.
Mr. Hostetler's use of polychrome patinas on some of his figurative sculptures seems to be derived from the local or possibly the actual coloration of clothing and hair, and is used for enhanced visual stimulation and contrast between literal shapes. It comes across as a concession to the popular images one might find in the graphic media, such as fashion photography. The anatomical forms of his highly stylized works are construed to conform to lyrically enveloping curves without overpowering the coyness of the subjects. Maillol cum Erte'?
We are reminded of the medium in the wood sculptures by the surface's staccato of mottled tool marks. That pride in the use of traditional media for its own sake is a hallmark of Hostetler's generation. In their after hours bull-sessions, the endless shop talk for these sculptors is usually expressed in the macho, "guy-talk" jargon of the romanticized, latter day Bohemians. It's not so much about the aesthetics of Western art as it is about the dirty fingernail enjoyment of a hands-on experience. And it's about the inherent beauty of processed wood, bronze, marble or clay per se. The newer, effete generation of Postmodernists who had been weaned on Duchamp and Andy Warhol has less respect for craftsmanship.
The construction of large scale or monumental sculptures requires so much time, labor and perspiration, even with the help of skilled technicians that are frequently a part of the process. Often that challenge alone has culled from the ranks the most formidable of practicing sculptors. As a result, a yeomanry of sculptors exists in this country that persists with successful, lifetime careers. Mr. Hostetler is indeed one of the more formidable practitioners who have centered his interests in supporting the Mediterranean tradition in a modern way with his versions of the idealized female in newer, popular sculptural expressions.
Matthew Zivich, Professor of Art


Asherah Tree Goddess, 2006
Catalpa, poplar burl, tree root crown
11' 7"h x 4'w x 3'd
Owl Ancient Tree Goddess, 1998
Wood, black and white patina
Roots, 34"w x 34"d
Cycladic Ancient Tree Root Goddess, 1997
Roots, 37"w x 34"d
African Ancient Tree Root Goddess, 2003
Bronze, black and white patina
Roots, 32"w x 28"d
Guardian I, 2001
Base: Wood and aluminum
4 _"h x 15 _"d
The Duo, 1996
Red oak
7' 2"h x 26"w x 18 _"d
Tribal Figure, 1999
Patinated bronze
Eternal, 1998
Bronze, blue green patina
Base: steel plate, 29"d
Monumental Cycladic Woman, 1997
Taos cotton wood, stained orange
8'h x 25"w x 20"d
Base: Poplar hewn beam with pine cap
3'6"h x 15w x 15 _" d
Bird Goddess II, 1999
Ash and catalpa burned black
Duo on Plynth, 2006
Bronze, brown rubbed patina
7'h x 15"w x 15"d
Springtime Lady, 2006
Bronze, blue green patina
3'5"h x 7"w x 17 _"d
Asherah Tree Goddess III, 2000
Bronze, pale patina with roots
Jazz Singer VI, 2003
Red oak, saffron paint
34"h x 27"w x 8 _"d
Dancing Lady, 2005
Bronze, pale green patina
35"h x 8"w x 17"d
Vamp, 2005
Catalpa, red and black paint
2' 4 _"h
Base: Black marble
x 2"h x 6 _"d
Guardian II, 2001
Base: Brass, blue green patina
2 _"h x 10 _"d
Love Form Head II, 2002
20"h x 11 _"
Base: Walnut painted black
2"h x 11 _"d
The Last Dance, 2007
Box Elder wood, burned black and painted white
5'3 _"h x 36"w x 12"d
Anasazi Goddess Fetish #1, 2003
Acrylic painting with zebra wood sculpture
37 _"h x 25 _"w x 5"d
Anasazi Goddess Fetish #5, 2004
Acrylic painting on masonite with spalted zebra sculpture
45"h x 29 _"w x 5 _"d
Yahweh and His Asherah #1, 2006
Oil on canvas with sculpture
36 _"h x 27 _"w x 9"d
Lunar Goddess II, 2005
Oil on Masonite with catalpa wood sculpture, natural horn
47 _"h x 26 _"w x 6 _"d
Memory of a Dream, 2005
Oil on wood
25 _"h x 25 _"w
Memory of a Dream, 2004
33"h x 25 _"w



David Hostetler was born in Beach City, Ohio in 1926. He is a graduate of Indiana University and was awarded a Master of Fine Arts degree from Ohio University where he taught for 37 years. He retired from teaching as a full professor of sculpture in 1985 and is now Professor Emeritus. David and his wife Susan Crehan-Hostetler divide their time between Athens, Ohio and Nantucket, Massachusetts. David Hostetler's work has been included in over 200 group shows and has been the subject of one-person
exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the United States.

Select Public Collections

Trump International Hotel & Tower, New York
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
Kennedy Library, Boston, Massachusetts
Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio
Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio
Milwaukee Museum, Wisconsin
Speed Museum, Louisville, Kentucky
Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, Alabama
De Cordova Museum, Lincoln, MA

Sponsored by

The Dow Chemical Company


Editor's note:

Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Marilyn Wheaton, Director, Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, for her help concerning permissions for reprinting the above texts.

Readers may also enjoy:

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum in Resource Library.

Visit the Table of Contents for Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2007 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.