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Roy Gould: Sculpted in Intensity

Article by Marcia Darnell

Local Artists – September 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

ROY GOULD’S life is in flux. It’s one of those exciting, terrifying times when everything’s changing and anything’s possible. That energy is evident in the way he’s bouncing around his cabin, words racing as he talks about his work, his past, his son, his house, and his views on everything from community activism to raising children.

[Gould's bird-shaped house]

Gould is going through a divorce and is sharing custody of his 3 year-old son, Taru. He just finished his last scheduled house-building job and is focusing his time and creativity on his own house, while waiting to see where his creative energy will drive him next.

Homes are his creative mainstay right now, and his own is a work in progress. In giving me directions to his house, he told me to look for “the window dormer that looks like a bird.” I spotted it right away — a smooth, sculpted look that drapes the house in graceful, flowing lines.

Gould’s major love is masonry. “I like it more than woodwork or anything else,” he says. His creations include an earth-bermed sauna, fountains, and fireplaces that are unique.

He’s lived in Crestone for 14 years, moving from Corrales, N.M., where he was a technical illustrator. His previous corporate stints were in Boston and San Francisco, and he’s lived all over the U.S. and in Colombia.

He came to the San Luis Valley to visit some crystal miners. “I was delighted with this place,” he says. “Everything I was interested in seemed to be here.”

He believes the Valley is “‘a very trying area.’ Whatever issues you have will come up here. I tell newcomers, ‘Leave your baggage back where you came from, because if you’re trying to run away from something, it’ll be worse here.’

“Crestone intensifies everything.”

And Crestone itself has intensified, growing from 50 to 1,000 people since he arrived and started his business, Sculpted Notions.

Active in his community, Gould is the chief of the Crestone Volunteer Fire Department, has served on the town council, and was a building inspector during the growth period. All this while sculpting wood, crystals and homes.

“I’ve always been into art,” Gould says, even from early childhood. A mediocre student, he scraped through school by virtue of his creativity and winning personality. His art took him into the corporate world, where his designs brought him big paychecks but little personal satisfaction.

[Exterior fireplace]

As an artist, he’s done crafts shows and jewelry, carved tree stumps and crystals, and designed posters and business cards. He’s sold his artwork in galleries in New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Boston. Now the homes he builds are the galleries and displays.

Gould also likes what he calls “creativity in creation,” gardening and organic farming.

“I’ll work in almost any medium,” he says. “I like to feel challenged.”

He built a straw-bale house for his ex-wife, which moved him into the construction field. He specializes in fireplaces, fountains, carved banisters, and mosaic tile. He has created fountains or fireplaces for every house of religion in Crestone. His creations are both simple and beautiful, making a perfect spot for quiet contemplation.

Gould calls his creations “sculpted homes.” His creativity in building includes innovations in stone, tile, wood, and plaster. The homes feature undulating walls and chimneys, and lots of rounded corners. The elements in each house seem to flow into one another, like well-placed exhibits in a museum.

“There’s no artwork in a house I build that can be taken out,” he says.

Gould has a special fondness for trapdoors, which he designs to provide storage under the floor and staircase, and a holding area for wood near the fireplace. One of his houses has 11 trapdoors in the living area.

[Sculpted Fireplace]

Research is key before beginning a project.

“I never tell a client, ‘I’ve never done that.’ What I say is ‘I can do that.’ Then I learn everything I can about the project, talk to others who have done it, and I feel ready.”

This self-education has broadened his skills and expanded his business.

“I can design and build a house from the ground up,” he says.

Gould takes me on a tour of his property, including the outhouse, camp trailer, and the tent where Taru plays. He’s dug out the foundations for expanding his little house. Plans include a kitchen and a large studio to accommodate all his different art projects. There will also be a tunnel from one wing to another. Taru will have a blast.

Gould also has grinding wheels set up to carve and polish crystals. A heap of unfinished rock sits nearby. Several tree stumps also await his attentions.

“I’ll be getting back into wood carving and crystals,” he says.

He’s also looking into getting a computer, to return to his roots in graphic design.

Whatever else Gould finds after this transition, it’s sure to be visually appealing and structurally sound. He may not know what to do next, but he’s sure it’ll be creative, and in the changing town of Crestone, where he can be reached at 719-256-4397.

“I’m not sure what the future is,” he says, “but I’ll always do my artwork.”

Marcia Darnell lives, writes, and tours art studios in the San Luis Valley.