Three-dimensional leather artwork is a rare and uncommon combination of art and sculpture. An image is drawn and transferred to leather instead of traditional artist’s canvas. Once on leather, the long process of transforming the flat image into a beautiful three-dimensional work of art begins. The artist begins the long, tedious process of transforming the flat rendering into a exquisite three-dimensional work of original art.
The origin of leather figure carving goes back decades with Al and Ann Stohlman regarded as the “masters” of leather work. There are saddle makers, western floral carvers, crafters and hobbyists across the country and internationally producing superb figure carvings.
However, the origin and emergence of three-dimensional leather carvingas fine art, belongs to Robb Barr, a proud member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Nation (Sioux), who developed his techniques over the course of more than a quarter century. Robb used his techniques to become a world renowned artist and bring the art form to the recognized level of fine art.
Jay Heinrich was fortunate to have crossed paths with Robb following Jay’s heart surgery in 1997 and Robb’s heart transplant in 1998. Jay attended an instructional seminar in 1998 that Robb presented, learning the basic techniques of the process. Prior to that Jay had never been involved in any creative artistic endeavors. In fact, his time was eaten up as a corporate executive.
After becoming captivated by the uniqueness of the finished work, Jay began “self teaching” based on Robb’s techniques, the characteristics of leather and acrylic painting to refine his skills.
Over the course of five years Jay and Robb became friends until Robb’s sad and untimely death in 2003. From his studio Jay continued his “self teaching” and worked on technique. Jay’s works have won several awards in various states, including Best of Show for the “Fine Art” category at the Colorado State Fair and recognized with a variety of awards for other works.
Jay’s work has been displayed in galleries in Colorado and Arizona and commissioned pieces reside in collections across the country. Currently Jay’s work can be seen at Runyon's Fine Furniture in Roanoke, TX and Spirit Mountain Gallery in Salida, CO .
Jay continues to grow in his ability to critically present each work of art whether it is a North American “big game” species, horse, raptor or other subject. His desire and enjoyment comes from creating leather art that “comes to life”.
Robb Barr had a saying; “What good does it do to take our secrets to the grave?”... Jay will be forever grateful Robb didn’t!
The fine art exhibited here is a testament to the continuation of a this rare and unique form of fine art seldom seen.