Barney Bellinger, a Johnstown native, began his artistic career customizing motorcycles and hand carving and painting signs. Inspired by a visit to the Adirondack Experience’s Rustic Fair in 1990, he turned to furniture making, establishing Sampson Bog Studio four years later. His work is closely tied to the woods and waters of his Adirondack home, where rambles in the forest as a child fostered a love for nature and the outdoors. He often uses found wood such as roots, burl, and fallen tree limbs in his designs, allowing the organic forms and rich textures to dictate the shape of his pieces. His distinctive, unique style has made him the most recognized and sought-after Adirondack furniture maker.
Barney’s creative work continues to evolve, as the self-taught artist is also an accomplished painter, photographer, and sculptor. This period of quarantine and isolation has been a productive one for Barney, “an amazing past five months of energy, family, and creativity.” His eye for using found materials is reflected in his large sculptures, made from salvaged steel, copper, and high-grade iron that populate his workshop in Mayfield. Bits of deconstructed taxidermy hang above a burl-topped table with a machine-part base. Lighting fixtures are made with combinations of leathers, armadillo shells, stained glass and tree roots. A tree root table base is slowly being covered in gold leaf. Reflecting on his artistic process, Barney has said “Not all things can be pre-planned when using natural elements along with found objects. Once a piece has been put together…a personality has been established.”
Barney Bellinger has exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution, the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute; the Doyle Gallery in NYC; the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and the Adirondack Experience, among others. He is currently artist-in-residence at the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts, teaching sculpture classes to teens and young adults with autism and learning difficulties.