By Rachel M. Anderson
(Twin Cities, Minn.) – “This is from an Amish lumber yard in Wisconsin. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet.”
“This is an old walnut stump from California. I think I’ll make it into a candle holder.”
“This is a piece of mesquite from Montana. It’s kind of shaped like a peace pipe or a saxophone. I think I’ll make it into a saxophone,” said Patrick Plautz of Eagan, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis.
As he walks through his wood shop, Plautz sees all kinds of possibilities. That is after all what artists do isn’t it? They see possibilities.
Plautz has been working with wood since he was just a boy. When he was 14, he and a cousin helped add on to his mother’s house in Wisconsin. After that project was complete, more wood working projects followed and before he knew it Plautz had made woodworking into his career.
Since 1992, he has owned and operated Minnesota Valley Cabinets in Savage, a small company that builds custom cabinets, mostly for remodeling projects. In his spare time and on weekends, he works on his art pieces.
There are now Patrick Plautz pieces in homes throughout the Twin Cities, including Claudia Sutherland’s Edina residence and her farm in Rogers. She first met Plautz about ten years ago at the home of one of her friends when it was being remodeled. “He was doing all of the cabinetry and I was doing all of the design work,” she said. “I asked him if he could duplicate a wall cabinet if I just sketched it out. He said, ‘Yeah!’ and thus our friendship was formed.”
Sutherland was so impressed with Plautz’s work at her friend’s home she soon hired him to design some furniture for her. “He built a secretary out of old pieces of wood that had once been mailboxes. The piece really fit the theme of the farm which was Ralph Lauren Western, very upscale,” she said. Plautz also built some custom cabinets, a coffee table and end tables for her home.
“The guy is one step short of a creative genius. There is no question about it,” said Sutherland. “He has a very unique style where he combines contemporary and traditional and transitional looks using interesting woods. What’s not to like? The guy does custom furniture that no one else does.”
Gillian Gabriel considers herself a fan of Plautz’s work as well. She met him a couple of years ago through the contractor she had hired to do some home remodeling. “He was being brought in to make some cabinets for us, and we expected a very simple result, but Patrick came in and looked around our house, then left and came back with just lovely solutions that we weren’t expecting. I realized at that moment we were dealing with not a cabinet maker, but much more of an artisan,” said Gabriel, who hired Plautz to build some custom furniture pieces for her Bloomington home – a coffee table, some end tables and a window seat bench.
Plautz was born into a family of artists. His brother, Michael, was an accomplished artist and architect who published a book of his work. His sister, Mary Jo Fox, is a watercolor artist living in central Wisconsin. His uncle was an oil painter and craftsman and his cousin, Mary Ann Wunderlin, is a co-founder of the Loring Park Art Festival, which draws thousands to Minneapolis every year.
Plautz will be among the participants again this year when the festival is held on Saturday & Sunday, August 2 and 3, 2014. He also plans to participate in at least seven other art fairs this year:
April 11 - 13, 2014
American Craft Council Show
St. Paul RiverCentre
175 West Kellogg Boulevard
St. Paul, MN 55102
April 26 & 27, 2014
Clark County, Wisc. “Spring into the Arts Studio Tour”
4th Annual Self-guided Studio Art Crawl
Patrick Plautz’ work will be on display at “The Barn”
9647 Gorman Ave.
Willard, WI 54493
June 14 & 15, 2014
Art on the Lake
On the lakefront, Downtown Excelsior
July 5 & 6, 2014
Chicago’s Botanical Garden Art Show,
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60002
July 19 & 20, 2014
Minnesota River Festival
The Landing Park
2187 Highway 101 East
Shakopee, MN 55379
Sept. 6 & 7, 2014
Fall into the Arts Festival
7499 France Avenue
Edina, MN 55435
Nov. 29 & 30, 2014
“There Once Was a Barn” Art Boutique
9647 Gorman Ave.
Willard, WI 54493
This event will take place inside a newly restored milking parlor, originally built in the early 1900s. The space has been converted to a store and workshop owned by woodworking artist Patrick Plautz. In addition to his work, there will be also be art created by a number of other local artists on display there.
Plautz also has wood art on display and for sale in Savage, Minn., throughout the year at The Eagle Creek Gallery at 12358 Boone Avenue South (www.eaglecreekgallery.com).
For more information or to contact the artist, visit his website, http://patrickjsimagination.com. Patrick Plautz and his wife of 44-years, Kay, live in Eagan, Minn., and have two grown children.