Richard West shows gratitude for life through art
Some people believe art imitates life. Olney resident Richard West believes his art is life as it reflects Christ. West designs and carves crosses every day in the small woodshop that sits in his backyard. After picking up one of the crosses he carved, I felt something special and decided to buy it the moment I touched it. This experience prompted me to learn more about the artist and the unique crosses that are vastly different from the crosses on sale at craft stores.
West was born in Fort Worth, Texas. His call to ministry (pastoring) brought him to Olney in 1980. He has lived in the surrounding areas throughout the years but has been back in Olney for the past three years where he resides with his wife, Kathy West. The West’s have three grown children. He used to own Richard’s barbecue in Wichita Falls before doctors diagnosed him with cancer. He said he loves the hometown and friendly feel of Olney. “Olney has everything we need here,” West said. “I love our grocery store. I worked as a professional meat-cutter for 40 years at the JRB in Olney.”
West said while working on the farm and constructing buildings with his dad, he discovered that he loved working with wood. Years later, he started building birdhouses in his backyard shop. Although his birdhouses were equipped with chimneys and outhouses, sales were low, so he moved on to carving crosses and fell in love with it. “My daughter helped me get the tools I needed. Someone who owns a cabinet shop in Olney brought me beautiful pieces of wood,” West said.
Many people are drawn to the cross for various reasons. West said he loves the cross and what it stands for. “The cross means LIFE. The cross means HOPE. The cross means LOVE. It means everything good in this world.”
West said facing death multiple times while battling cancer is what strengthened his faith in God. He said the Lord never left his side, and when people buy his crosses, he said it makes him proud to use his art to make others aware of Christ. “Every time someone looks at the cross, they will be reminded that someone loved them enough to give his life for them.”
West said he is always working in his shop. “As long as my shop door is open, people are welcome to come by to see my work, buy pieces, drink coffee or talk.”
West signs his artwork with a hand-carved signature, and he puts his heart into every detail. He would like to share his work with more people, and he is looking for a place to make this possible. If you would like to display some of his work in your office, lobby or home, please stop by his shop at 810 W. Main Street in Olney or contact Olney Enterprise at 940-564-5558 for contact details. West said he looks up at the cross and realizes that it brings people together.