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‘Keep One’s Compass in One’s Eyes’

Shea Stanfield~ 4/29/2015

Michelangelo reflected, “It is necessary to keep one’s compass in one’s eyes and not in the hand, for the hands execute but the eyes judge.” It is with the keen compass of his artistic eye and skillful hand that local artist Reg McCormick executes his beautifully precise designs into the shells of ordinary gourds. In much the same fashion of the great masters, Reg has the ability to “see” the image, hiding just beneath the surface, and patiently lifts is out for all of us to enjoy. Reg also readily gives his wife of 52 years, Dorothy, equal credit for her own keen eye in identifying the most subtle and magical shapes.

Growing up in Ontario, Canada, Reg seemed to have the talent for design.  After serving in the Canadian Army, Reg attended Drouillard’s Barber College, graduating as a Master Barber. Reg and Dorothy married and had two children before moving to Michigan in 1965, where they became American Citizens. In 1969, Reg opened Sportsmen’s Barber Shop, where he enjoyed a long and successful career doing exactly what he loved, creating the perfect cut to suit each of his individual clients.   In 1994, Reg and Dorothy decided it was time to retire. They sold the business to their son and hit the road in their motor home.

While traveling to various parts of the country, Reg found time to take up a number of hobbies in the form of wood and ostrich egg carvings, pottery, and stained glass, but it was his wood carving that would, to his surprise, be his magical medium for his designs. Unfortunately, in 2005, both Reg and Dorothy were diagnosed with cancer. During the year and a half they were receiving treatment, they occupied their time with creative activities centered on Reg’s wood carving. Reg would call it a “blessing in disguise.” It was during this time he enrolled in classes that introduced him to gourd art. He readily caught on to the fine points of carving on these fragile and odd shaped shells. He said he had a “knack for it,” intuitively knowing what needed to be done to achieve the best result.

Today, Reg is fighting his second battle with cancer, but that has not stopped him from channeling his creative energy into his art. Although he admits he had to reschedule a couple of exhibits, he is winning his fight to full recovery. You will find him busy in his Surprise, Ariz. studio working on commissioned pieces and designing new sculptured gourds that inspire him to keep improving and perfecting his art. Reg is a member of the American Gourd Society, a juried member of the Arizona Gourd Society, the Sonoran Arts League, South Scottsdale Art Alliance, WHAM Art Association, Lizard Flats Gourd Patch, and Payson Art League. Reg has won first and second places, as well as the honor of Grand Master in the 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 competitions held by the Arizona Gourd Society. His gourd Dancing in the Wind was featured in Phoenix Home & Gardens Magazine. Reg’s collectors are far and wide, residing throughout the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands.  He is a member of ARTACAN (Artists After Cancer) and donates a percent of the proceeds from his sales to local organizations that benefit cancer patients. To contact Reg, follow his progress, commission a piece, purchase one of his inspired pieces, and view an astonishing assortment of his designs, visit his Web site at 

Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield at