Flights of Fancy

James (Jay) Seaman sculpts in metal and wood. Sometimes his subjects are human figures or various animals, but very often they are big, bright, stylized birds. He’s been making art for about 20 years, since graduating from Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he earned a degree in psychology.

Jay is also a craftsman: “I do carpentry, finish carpentry and cabinet-making. I also do stonework and masonry, he said.­ “I go back and forth between the art and carpentry because I can’t earn a living just carving birds.” These skills inform his art and vice versa, but art is his real love. If he has to put a piece on hold to, say, build a house, it can be frustrating.

Jay’s bird sculptures are his own invention. He develops his techniques by talking with other artists, doing research and by trial and error. The birds typically have a wooden body and metal legs. “The steel legs give the birds the strength they need to stand up. I couldn’t pull it off if their legs were made of wood,” he explained.

Though he plays with exaggerated forms and doesn’t aim for strict realism, Jay gets a lot of ideas from nature: “With all of the creeks and gorges, a lot of nice birds live around here, like the green-backed heron. I secretly think a heron flying over my studio brings luck.”

Jay lives with Kelly, his wife, and Leah, their daughter in Trumansburg, not far from where he grew up. The family recently moved into a new house they built next to Jay’s studio.

“It was a challenge when we were living in the village and my studio was out here because I was constantly running back and forth between the studio and home.

“Now, I can walk out the door, and there it is. What I had to accept is the fact that art is my true passion, and that’s really what I want to be doing,” he said. “I mean, I can be lying in bed, and I’m just reeling. There’s just so much that I want to do.”

His hard work and drive has gotten him noticed, too. A flamingo Jay sculpted is on display at the Audubon House in Key West, Florida.

To see one of Jay’s sculptures, head over to Cobblestone Farm Winery in Romulus. Visible to drivers on Route 89 is a giant eagle made of copper with a steel skeleton. Several other wineries also show his pieces. Tasting rooms tend to be large enough to accommodate his works, and showing in wineries benefits both parties: It brings his art to the attention of many people who might otherwise be unaware of it, and it provides the wineries with something special for tasters to look at.

Several local galleries have Jay’s works on display as well. His pieces can be found in Michael Ringer’s St. Lawrence Gallery in Clayton, the Pat Rini Rohrer Gallery in Canandaigua and Sundrees in Trumansburg. To contact the artist, call 607-351-8190 or e-mail him at jklseaman@zoom-dsl.com.


by Anya Harris