There are many layers to the story of South Windsor artist Eric Holmquist, whose work is on display on the lower level of the South Windsor Public Library through the end of July.
First, there is the art itself, magnificently crafted pieces across myriad media, including multi-colored bowls, carved goose eggs and gorgeous wooden pens.
Then there’s the 49-year-old Holmquist’s background as an aerospace engineer, a noble profession to be sure, but hardly one that has served as the launching pad (pun intended) of many budding artists.
Factor in that Holmquist only took up art (woodturning) just five years ago as a hobby and add a dose of humility - he doesn’t sell his work, choosing instead of give away his pieces as gifts to friends or donations to charity auctions - and you have the stuff of a budding local legend.
Holmquist, a graduate of South Windsor High School Class of 1981, acknowledges that being an engineer does create a challenge to his hobby as an artist.
“I’m used to precision, logic and math,” Holmquist said in a recent telephone interview. “I have to get my mind working in a different way. It’s part of the reason why I do this.
“You put in a whole day’s work, you want to do something different to get your mind off your work life. Once I find a certain art form, I go out into the shop and play around and the rest of the world disappears.”
It’s that approach that has led him to steer clear of commercializing his work.
“I very rarely sell anything,” he said. “I do it as a form of relaxation. … I want to make the best looking thing I can. I do it for relaxation and enjoyment, not as a secondary business.”
And his work has certainly earned a following.
“[Holmquist’s work] is one of the most impressive displays of workmanship and artistry that the library has had the pleasure of showcasing,” said Reference Librarian Pat Wiggin, noting Holmquist’s unusual background. “We’re always looking for talented craftspeople and artists to display their talents at the library.”