TRUCKEE, Calif. — Tom Beebe is a contractor. He is a wood worker. The man is a craftsman — the man is an artist.
Since starting his Artistry in Wood business in 1989, Tom has spent his workdays turning wood into art. His passion for creating, his love for artistry, has become his livelihood.
And any man who lives his passion, is a lucky man indeed.
“I really love what I do,” Tom said. “I have a hard time getting away.”
Just off West River Street in Truckee is Tom’s office/studio/workshop, his woodworking headquarters. The shop is 2,000 square feet, a vast space with machines and tools, wood of every size and color, and of course large speakers to keep the artist going.
It isn’t uncommon for him to spend 10 hour-days, 7 days a week in his space.
“If I’m sanding I’m listening to really loud rock ‘n roll,” Tom said. “If it’s an intricate work I listen to jazz or something softer.”
Tom’s eyes are a piercing blue and his demeanor is gentle and kind. He is soft in speech and calm in his movements. Tom was Riverside Studio’s featured artist in March, and his artwork is featured at Bluestone Jewelry, too. Many clients, after spending time with Tom, trust his design and his vision when it comes to pieces.
Anne and John Isaacson, residents of Incline Village, have worked closely with Tom to create a more modern and artistic feeling in their home.
“We gave him the basics, but mostly left it in his hands because we trusted him implicitly,” Anne said. “He loves what he does and it’s really reflected in his work. You couldn’t ask for finer craftsmanship.”
Carla Beebe is Tom’s marketing director and accountant. She is his agent and promoter. She calls herself Tom’s “cheerleader.”
Carla strongly believes in supporting local artists, and she is very involved and passionate about the art scene in Truckee/Tahoe.
“Our idea is the more successful artists we have, the more people will start to recognize it as a valuable profession and that helps everybody,” Carla said.
The couple laugh, saying that when they made the leap to go into business for themselves, they “didn’t know enough to be scared.”
“I pushed him,” Carla said. “It was a natural transition and we grew into it.”
As a couple, the Beebes make a great team. Tom says he “love(s) doing one-on-one talk, but I’m not the person you’ll see at the chamber mixers,” while his wife is the sociable side of the business.
“They are very special people, intelligent warm and giving,” Anne said. “There is a deep soul quality about them.”
Like all artists, Tom honors the creative process that helps him continually bring creativity into his workshop. The design and drawing of a piece can take as much time as creating it.
Tom says he skis, rides his bike, and walks his three Jack Russell terriers to help clear his mind.
“I use to worry about not being able to sit down and think things up now I just kind of relax and let it come,” he said.
Tom and Carla plan to share another side of Tom’s work with the community this spring, as Tom will share his knowledge with the community.
Beginning in May, the Beebes will hold gilding and patination classes, frame building, Inlay and Marquetry, as well as basic woodworking classes for those interested in learning the craft of woodworking.
Tom’s workshop is filled with various wood pieces — dining room tables, benches, cabinetry and custom wine racks.
Throughout the years he has worked on pieces as small as hanging mirrors, to woodworking the entire interior of a home.
One of his most prized pieces, however, he built for his stepmother upon her request. Tom says he has “always gravitated toward doing art with my hands” because his father was an artist, a painter, and loved to see what Tom was creating in his shop.
Three years ago Tom built the box which houses his father’s ashes. He chose an oriental inlay for the top with seven dogwood blossoms for the man’s seven grandchildren.
Although the piece took a long time to complete, Tom says it has been one of the most monumental and heart felt pieces he has created.
Whether it’s a piece for his own family or for a client’s home, working from the heart is what this Tom Beebe does.
“I feel that he puts a lot of his soul and energy into any project he does,” Anne said. “It is always a labor of love.”
“I really love what I do. I have a hard time getting away.”