Local Self-Taught Artist Showcases His Works at Westmoreland Museum
Rod Cross, a director for Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited, was invited to display his art work and explain his hobby at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg. The event, Sunday, November 13, included a display of many of his past and recent art pieces.
Rod is multi-talented and puts many of his skills to work during TU events, including being the chapter’s go-to instructor for fly casting. But his passion is really in “whittling” which he proudly distinguishes from “carving” where the wood is held in a vice. Whittling involves holding the raw wood in his hand and using a small knife to produce the intricately designed final product.
Like many artists, Rod prefers the quiet of his wood shop to create his masterpieces with just music playing softly in the background. Many of his pieces take a full week of work, including as many as 20 coats of tung oil. The oil gives the wood a rich, glass like finish, penetrating the wood to help preserve it. Rod’s wife Judy was on hand to greet visitors and to share the stories behind the artwork.
Forbes Trail is blessed with so many talented members willing to give of their time and talents to help promote our mission of conserving our coldwater fisheries. But what’s more interesting sometimes is their backgrounds, and what to do in their spare time.
Many of Rod’s art pieces tell a story, including the source, and importance of the wood from which it is whittled. Following is Rod’s introduction to his story for visitors at the museum.
“My name is Rod Cross, and I am a self-taught wood carver, or more accurately, a “whittler”. I was taught to respect and use a knife as a tool, and later as an instrument to create my expression of Art.
My carvings reflect a passion in other areas of my life that bring me joy and satisfaction, as art should.
Trout fishing and conservation have led me to carve the flowing lines of the brook trout, and the carvings are donated to conservation fund-raising banquets.
Over the years the carvings that give me the most satisfaction are the simple cherry nativity scenes that I carve for one person, or a family each year. This gift of giving has given back to me the real meaning of the Christmas season.
And trout pins for hats or vests are carved and given to fishing friends, and a former President and First Lady.”
Cross grew up in North Huntingdon Township. His working career was in the industrial gas business, first driving a truck, then retiring as a Regional Operations Manager for the Northeast.