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Artistic Resume: Steve Wishnevsky
612 McCreary St. Winston-Salem, NC 27105,
Steve Wishnevsky was born in 1945 to a military family and has lived in Alabama, Connecticut, Northern California, Vermont, Tennessee, and North Carolina. He has been settled in Winston-Salem since 1984, and is well known as part of the literary and musical circles.
He started in his chosen art form of Lutherie with informal studies under James A. Rickard, Chief Engineer, Ovation Guitars in Connecticut, in the late 1960’s and was creating informal and assembled instruments as long ago as 1960. He concurrently began to earn a living as a woodworker, making wooden toys and smoking accessories, under the name JWH Woodworks in Hartford, Connecticut, and Newark, Vermont. A fortuitous employment assisting the cabinetmaker at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut exposed him to original masterworks of art and sculpture, and to the rudiments of conservation and display.
An interest in American Appalachian Musics led to an invitation from David A. Sturgill, a North Carolina Folk Heritage Laureate, to study musical instrument making in Piney Creek, North Carolina in 1973. There he studied with such luthiers as banjo maker Kyle Creed, fiddle maker Albert Hash, and guitar maker and National Folk Heritage Award winner Wayne C. Henderson. A few years later, the Sturgill family bought and moved two established guitar manufactories, Harptone, of Newark, New Jersey, and Microfrets of Maryland, to Independence, Virginia, under the name of The New River Music Company. Mr. Wishnevsky was foreman and production manager for this facility.
In 1978, Mr. Wishnevsky accepted a position with Ovation Instruments in New Hartford, Connecticut, where he was able to study under James Rickard again and to exchange ideas with other master luthiers such as Seth Hedu, of Watertown, Connecticut, and Richard Starky, now of Martin guitars. Two years later, Mr. Wishnevsky moved to Middle Tennessee, where he was able to open his own studio devoted to the design and construction of mandolins and to also further his interest in sculpture. He was able to win some awards in local art festivals and to study under local sculptors such as Tom Jackson, and to study the Gallagher Guitar factory, in Wartrace, Tennessee.
After further studies and touring the Gurian Guitar shop in New Hampshire and the Taylor factory in El Cahon, California, Mr. Wishnevsky has established a studio in Winston-Salem, where he makes guitars and basses, while also employed as a Master Cabinetmaker. He is one of the very few craftsmen in America to ever complete a full sized Double Bass Viol. He is now working on his tenth instrument of this class, and is also in serial production of the epitome of guitars, the Archtop, or Cello, Jazz Acoustic Guitar.
He is also continues to experiment with Unique, Folk, and Art instruments, and has formed alliances with local visual Artists Jon Blackburn, Laurie Russell, and Ted Lyons, among others, to create decorated instruments of a new category and style. He has works in the permanent collection of some local establishments and has had a few gallery sales, notably at Morning Dew Coffeehouse and at Urban Art Ware. He is a fixture at the Summer on Trade Series for the last several years and usually vends at nearby Festivals and Shows such as The Enofest, Merlefest, Apple Chill, LEAF, The Mount Airy Fiddle Festival, Many Hands, and others. He believes that Lutherie is the pinnacle of woodworking, invoking as it does of all the senses except taste, and having a cross-disciplinary impact on the arts of music, sculpture, and ergonomics. A musical instrument must have visual appeal, produce pleasing sounds, be comfortable to the hands and body, and most importantly, serve as an interface with the nervous system of the performer in such an instinctive, supportive way as to facilitate that performer’s creation of his own art, and communion with his audience. The challenge is to induce mute wood and metals to give voice, and he feels he is becoming at least facile at this task.