Wilkes-Barre artist David Kline is inspired by his family roots as well as shrub roots.
He turned a shrub root he found on top of Giants Despair into a sculpture that he said represents the fear people experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the suffering from the deaths of loved ones.
Kline, 67, a member of the Wyoming Valley Art League and a disabled Navy veteran, said he will display the sculpture that he calls the “Suffering Servant” at the Fine Arts Fiesta May 14-16 on Public Square.
“This signifies the virus and this represents the new life coming from the virus,” Kline said. “There’s hope around the corner. In the midst of darkness, light is most beautiful.”
Kline, who also serves as a first responder and volunteer with Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency, said he has witnessed death and devastation through serving his country and recovery efforts from disasters like the Agnes Flood of 1972 and Hurricane Katrina.
From his experiences, he’s learned that in the midst of suffering, there is hope.
For Kline, art is part of his family roots. His late cousin was the famous painter Franz Kline who was associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1940s and 1950s.
“I never met my cousin, yet his genes are part of who I am because I’m abstract through nature,” he said. “I’m thankful to be able to share my artwork.”
Kline turned to art after 30 years in the Navy with Underwater Demolition Teams, a precursor to the Navy SEALs, and a civilian with the Army Corps of Engineers.
Woodwork is a passion for Kline, who also will sell his handcrafted walking sticks, canes and more at the Fine Arts Fiesta. Kline calls his arts and crafts business “Creations by Silver Eagle.”
“The tops of my walking sticks will have flowers from Colombia, South America and I’ll be using the hardwoods of the Northeast, including blueberry, poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac all done with a natural finish,” he said.
Kline’s artwork is on display in the Reading Room at the Osterhout Library in Wilkes-Barre as well as the Penn’s Landing Seaport Museum in Philadelphia and museums in Vermont and Maine.
He said a portion of his sales from the Fine Arts Fiesta will go to the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity and veterans service organization that offers programs, services and events for wounded veterans.
Joel Zitofsky, who coordinates the Artists’ Market at the Fine Arts Fiesta, said it’s great that Kline will display his sculpture “that will speak to people this year.”
“It’s a wonderful idea and we look forward to seeing him and his work,” Zitofsky said.
A shorter and socially distanced version of The Fine Arts Fiesta called “Presentation of the Arts 2021” will be held 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day after being canceled last year due to the pandemic.
Kline is one of about 40 artists who will participate in the Artists’ Market.
“We really wanted to do it to support our artists who have had a very hard year,” Zitofsky said. “A lot of people are collectors and they will appreciate having a wonderful weekend. They’re spending a lot of time in their homes and they are realizing they have places for artwork.”