Born 1952 in Elgin, IL, Bob Guge’s artistry celebrates the creation of one of God’s most versatile creatures. Bob’s reverential regard for birds and his desire to express himself as an artist using his God-given gift are integral parts of each work of art he completes. This attitude towards his carving has made him a world class carver and much sought after instructor. Bob has also co-authored several books on carving and painting wildfowl.
A self-taught artist, Bob has been carving since 1972 and was strongly influenced by his father, who made hunting decoys. As his father’s pieces became more sophisticated and entered competitions, Bob’s interest in birds and art grew. In a short time, puttering as a novice carver blossomed into a professional, artistic pursuit of wood sculpturing. Bob was also influenced by Harold Haertel and other artists.
Bob’s many years of observing birds in the wild and studying the nuances that make each species unique, combined with careful scrutiny of photographs and preserved specimens, has honed his ability to capture the life essence of each bird in exquisite detail. A large population of birds migrate through his hometown area enabling Bob to study a wide variety of birds. Field research remains a priority when traveling throughout the country for exhibitions, competitions, and pleasure. Attention to distinctive facial details is a hallmark of his artistry. Bob’s style over the years has changed from intricate, heavily textured carvings to a softness that is worked into each bird. He tames the harshness of a Blue Jay into a pensiveness that ensures attention appreciation, qualities necessary for all works of art.
Bob works with jelutong, a special type of wood imported from Malaysia, Tupilo from the swamps of the Southern U.S. and acrylics. These elements serve as a quiet backdrop that enhances the bird’s natural attitude and personality …integral parts of each work of art. Bob’s intensive field research brings versatility to his work. Whether creating shore birds, songbirds, or birds of prey, each piece is a striking composition of realism, simplicity and reverence. His keen perception of each bird’s unique characteristics and personality empowers him to create wood sculptures of classic quality that have earned him worldwide acclaim and the many prestigious awards. His carvings are included in the permanent collection of the North American Wildfowl Art Museum in Salisbury, Maryland; the prestigious Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin and in many private and corporate collections around the world.
Bob enjoys teaching all levels of woodcarving classes across the country and is currently working on a series of bird sculptures for the Danbury Mint in Connecticut as well as original carvings for Big Sky Carvers in Montana. He resides in Sleepy Hollow, IL., with his wife Jody. Together they have raised eight children, Seth, Joshua, Caleb, Jordan, Asher, Gabriel, Hannah, and Joy. Many of his children have followed in their father’s footstep with art. Bob and his son Joshua, who is also an excellent carver, together have started The Guge Institute of Wildlife Art (GIWA), where they teach carving classes throughout the year. Bob’s work is very much a part of his family life and his family very much an integral part of his work. His love for his craft and his family are a blessing to all that know him.