Rod Lindauer’s backyard smells like bourbon. A craftsman of several mediums, today Lindauer has broken-down bourbon barrels drying out on a rack by his workshop, where he makes custom furniture and sculpture pieces.
Though he may be best known around Lexington for his stainless steel art installations – including scuptures in front of Chevy Chase Plaza and the Main on Rose loft complex – Lindauer also works with reclaimed wood and local stone to create a variety of unique furniture.
His most recent project involves breaking down bourbon barrels, scraping off the char from the inside, steaming the curved planks, and fashioning Adirondack-style chairs.
“I try to incorporate, as much as possible, recycled material,” Lindauer said. “I don’t use any tropical hardwood, it’s all Kentucky wood, salvaged material from barns and houses.”
Individual pieces of wood often dictate their presentation, such as with a recent table top made from the wood of an old log cabin. Lindauer filled the pocked surface with plugs made from a lighter shade of wood.
“A lot of people make a barn wood table and it’s just a piece of barn wood, but I try to work with the beauty of the wood,” he said.
An accompanying bench to the cabin wood table is comprised of sanded slices of an old log Lindauer found in the Green River. The water wore down the soft wood and sap, leaving unusual but smooth edges, with each seat looking slightly different from the one next to it.
Much of his sculpture is done on commission, since stainless steel is expensive and salvaged components are difficult to come by. Lindauer says he enjoys working with the medium because of its durability, but is hesitant to write too much meaning into the shapes he chooses.
“When you put a name on something, it limits people’s experience of it,” he said. “I try not to go too much into what I was feeling or what I was thinking about when I did a piece … I feel like that stuff gets lost over time, but we find stuff from ancient cultures that still appeals to us because it’s beautiful on that human level.”
For Lindauer, creation and craftsmanship come second-nature. As a child, he says his whole family fixed or built what they needed, and he can’t remember a time when he didn’t know how to weld or work on cars. His ability to turn concepts from three-dimensional plans in his mind to physical products led to a job in biomedical electronics repair, which paid well but proved to be stressful. After a few years, Lindauer chose to return to his love of craftsmanship. A self-described starving artist, he reports he has no desire to return to the corporate world.
He accepts commissions for furniture and sculpture through his website, and sells ready-made pieces online and at art fairs. He will be appearing next at the Woodland Art Fair in August.
– Natalie Voss