Le Roy Setziol Door Finds its Unlikely Way to The ReBuilding Center

The Le Roy Setziol Door, unlike his other works in galleries across the Northwest, arrived at The ReBuilding Center strapped to a flat-bed truck. It is a story of trash and treasure, of a beautiful and valuable piece of art that nearly ended up in the landfill. Soon to be showcased by The ReBuilding Center, the Setziol Door’s unique carving, geometric pattern and gentle craftsmanship are its signature. The intricate patterns of ridges divided by flowing lines and organic shapes are smoothed not by sanding, but by deliberate carving and oiling by hand.

On Saturday June 19, 2010, the Setziol Door will be showcased at Open the DOOR to Sustainability, hosted by The ReBuilding Center of Our United Villages. A series of artist doors will be auctioned, created by Pacific Northwest artists from doors reclaimed from local Portland homes. ReFind Furniture’s environmentally sustainable contemporary furnishings, designed and handcrafted from repurposed materials, will also be exhibited and sold.

This uniquely carved door was donated to The ReBuilding Center in the fall of 2004. It was retrieved by The ReBuilding Center’s free pick-up service during one of their daily loops around the Portland region. The beautiful door was admired and appreciated, but little did the drivers know at the time that they were beholding the work of artist Le Roy Setziol. The center’s Salvage Specialists set the door aside for a time, intending to consider how best to find it a new home. One day, someone recognized Setziol’s signature artistry. The work was confirmed by his daughter Monica Setziol Phillips and thought to be one of his early works.

Though extraordinary in circumstance, the story of the Setziol Door is just one example of the treasures The ReBuilding Center saves every day. Like artifacts in a museum, there is a story in every reclaimed object. Every person has the opportunity to continue the legacy of our community’s artifacts — just as The ReBuilding Center continues the story of the Setziol Door. The consumer acts as curator of our everyday museum, as reclaimed materials are not only kept out of landfills, but carry memories and help to more thoughtfully tell the story of our community. It’s about seeing the value of everyday objects, taking what many see as waste and a liability – and turning it into an asset.

Le Roy Setziol, known as “the father of woodcarving,” is considered the “most accomplished and respected wood sculptor in the Northwest. After serving as a chaplain in the US Army during WWII, he settled with his family in Portland, Oregon. A self pronounced, “sculptor who happens to work with wood,” Setziol’s unique style of geometric patterns is well recognized. Through fifty years of sculpting, he produced over a thousand works and created commissions all over Oregon, including Salishan Lodge, St. James Evangelical Church in Portland, Lake Oswego City Hall, and Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. He lived and worked on 22 acres on the Oregon Coastal Range until his death in 2005.

The ReBuilding Center, a project of Our United Villages, is a vibrant resource working to strengthen the environmental, economic, and social fabric of local communities. Founded by volunteers in 1998, The ReBuilding Center carries the region’s largest volume of used building and remodeling materials. It provides resources that make home repairs affordable to everyone, with the goal of promoting sustainable practices. The ReBuilding Center’s inventory includes used lumber, doors, windows, flooring, cabinets, sinks, tubs and more. One hundred percent of the The ReBuilding Center’s materials are donated. In addition to the reuse warehouse, The ReBuilding Center includes DeConstruction Services, a sustainable alternative to conventional demolition, and ReFind Furniture, which offers a diverse line of sustainable furniture and home accessories handcrafted from salvaged materials. The ReBuilding Center also offers a free pick-up service, numerous volunteer opportunities, donations of used building materials for community projects, and an education program featuring workshops and classes on how to creatively use reclaimed building materials.


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*Photo courtesy of the Attic Gallery