IDO YOSHIMOTO | West Marin
Artist, arborist, and sculptor Ido Yoshimoto of Point Reyes Station investigates woodworking at the intersection of art and natural history. His diverse work ranges from exquisite plates and stools fashioned from local wood, to found objects displayed in shadow boxes, to larger sculptural pieces, some dyed with indigo, others textured with chainsaw scars.
As a teenager in Point Reyes Station, Ido volunteered at Lefty’s Saw Shop, just west of Highway One. “When I was 14 or 15, I’d come in here and sharpen saws and splice rope with Lefty,” Ido says. Lefty died in 1998, and the saw shop sat empty until six months ago, when Ido and a friend moved in and built a woodworking studio. The space is brimming with tools and materials that share countertops, shelves, and wall space with artifacts from nearby creeks, beaches, and forests.
“Ido spends hours treasure-hunting in the woods with his ten-year-old daughter. Together they unearth remnants of animals and insects, bones, skulls, Japanese glass fishing floats, and delicate nests built by paper wasp queens emerging from hibernation.”
Born in Inverness, Ido lived in the hills of Point Reyes and found inspiration in the forests that surrounded his childhood home. He left for a few years after high school, sitting in on art classes in Philadelphia and living with friends in San Francisco. He returned to Point Reyes 13 years ago and started doing tree work—climbing, pruning, maintaining, and removing trees around Point Reyes Station. Working with a chainsaw progressed to milling and later expanded to studies in wood, collections, and forms.
In addition to local tree work, which he now does part-time, Ido spends hours treasure-hunting in the woods with his ten-year-old daughter, whom he says has a remarkably keen eye in nature. Together they unearth remnants of animals and insects, bones, skulls, Japanese glass fishing floats, and delicate nests built by paper wasp queens emerging from hibernation. These discoveries are stored on shelves and in cabinet drawers around the studio until they are incorporated into a new piece or enshrined in a shadow box.
Lefty’s Saw Shop houses an array of Ido’s fieldwork, both raw and transformed. Smooth, whittled fids hang from the walls. These conical tools vary in color, tone, and wood, among them: local bay, elm, poplar, eucalyptus, apple, fir, buckeye, apricot, mulberry, sycamore, and maple. Alongside the fids are plates created from curly eucalyptus and live oak with sapsucker scars. The elegant and sturdy stools crafted from hollowed poplar burl trunks are particularly striking. Each fid, plate, and stool honors the material from which it was made.
Most of Ido’s jobs come through word of mouth. He works on commissions from the community, sometimes commemorating a birth or the life of someone who has died. In August 2014, ØGAARD Gallery in Oakland featured his series “Astral Planes,” showcasing recent experiments with indidgo-dyed wood and chainsaw-texture relief art. In addition to the backdrop of wild West Marin, Ido is influenced by the rawness of J.B. Blunk’s sculptural forms. Ido also recently worked with artist Mark Dion, whom he identified as a fellow collector, naturalist, and historian. Describing his own work, Ido says he explores “the transformation of objects out of context” and seeks to “illuminate artifacts of local natural history made unique with time.” Undoubtedly, the explorations have been fruitful and the illumination enlightening—Ido’s collection of beautiful objects will continue to grow.