AAW received sad news today that Ron Kent, AAW founding member #17, passed away on Saturday, December 15.
As an artist, Ron brought elegance and beautiful form to each piece he created, but was particularly well-known for his translucent Norfolk Island pine vessels, one of which is in the AAW Permanent Collection.
One of Ron’s longtime turning friends, S. Gary Roberts, sent this remembrance:
“I knew Ron Kent as a friend and fellow woodturner. I guess that the key word here is “fellow”. He treated everyone as a fellow and equal, regardless of their skill level or reputation. He had a sly sense of humor and a smile for everyone. He was a successful business man, which allowed him the time to enjoy and develop his love of woodturning.
The first time I visited him in his shop I was impressed with his ingenuity and the massive lathe that he had built. The head- stock and tail-stock were bolted down to huge blocks of poured concrete. The head shaft was about two and one half inches in diameter. His power source was a five horsepower electric motor connected to a three speed Ford truck transmission.
Ron was, and still is, the Master’s Master for turning green Norfolk Island Pine bowls so thin that you could see the shadow of his hand on the other side. He developed a curing process that, not only enhanced the beauty of the wood, but kept it from cracking—forever. Unlike most highly successful artist, he was open and eager to share his techniques and process with those who were curious.
My AAW membership number is 16 and Ron’s was 17. He regularly chided me about getting in ahead of him.
He loved to turn without his shirt on and, considering the wonderful climate of Hawaii, this was comfortable for him. We were helping Dale Nish with one of his symposiums and during the meeting of the demonstrators, Ron commented that he just might take his shirt off during the demonstration. Dale recoiled and started to say something when Ron laughed and said he was just poking Dale to get a reaction. We all enjoyed the joke.
I really believe that if Heaven does not have a lathe, Ron will build them one. A big one.”
A Chicago native, Ron was running his own investment company in Hawai’i when he took up turning in 1975. His wife, Myra, gave him an inexpensive lathe for Christmas. Not wanting to seem unappreciative, he walked down to the beach and found a piece of driftwood. Fitting it on the lathe, he turned a form from it with a sharpened screwdriver.
Ron Kent’s work is in the collections of the Bishop Museum (Honolulu, Hawai’i), the Hawai’i State Art Museum, the High Museum of Art (Atlanta, Georgia), the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Paris) and the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D. C.). Kent has presented his works to the Pope– and to three US presidents and two Supreme Court justices, as well as Emperor Akihito of Japan.
He is survived by Myra, and children Elizabeth Kent and Steven L. Kent. Our sympathies go out to the Kent family.
Post-Nuclear Series, 2008
Ron Kent with Myra Kent
Norfolk Island pine, copper wire