Leon Niehues

Posted: December 24, 2017 at 1 a.m.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE "Authenticity has always been a really big factor to him and his work. He sees it as 'the work speaks for itself' -- if you like it, great, if you don't, he won't try to convince you. I think he would kind of feel like he was violating his principles if he became a salesman." -- Matt Niehues

In an unassuming artist's studio behind a small house in Huntsville, Leon Niehues works on the craft he has honed since 1981 when he and his wife sold their first handmade baskets at the War Eagle Craft Fair. The studio is a reflection of its owner: Niehues is a highly respected, internationally known artist, but he, like his studio, puts on no airs. The space is modest but comfortable, with a lived-in couch in the corner. Niehues' supplies are spread everywhere because the artist is always working.

Through Others’ Eyes

Leon Niehues

“For a long time, he didn’t use anything that was purchased, for the most part. Maybe he was using some kind of iron stuff for dyes, but, for the most part, it was completely authentic. He would take a tree and turn it into a basket with hand tools. I think that’s one of the things that has always been so appealing — it’s just so real. It’s not someone taking commercial components and saying, ‘look what I created.’ It’s someone taking things from the woods and making something that is useful and also has a modern feel to it.” — Matt Niehues

“People from arts and crafts circles all over the country know him. He’s very well known and well known as one of the best in this country. But yet he’s modest and unassuming. I think it’s important that people see his work and appreciate it, because artists are often not appreciated on their own turf. ” — Julia “Judy” Norrell

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