Paul Downs has created a style of art using sticks, twigs and other found natural items that is one-of-a-kind. Instead of using charcoal or paint he renders his designs of animals, nature scenes, whimsical dancers and spirits of the earth by using local found materials as the medium for his artistic creations. “My palette is the white oak, the wild black cherry, tulip poplar, pine, sassafras, red twig dogwood and maple sticks,” says Downs. For nearly 35 years he has honed his skill down a trail no one else has ventured. His artistic expressions range from the power of wing-stretched soaring owls to a delicate locust to a portrait of the great Chief Red Cloud to his latest series of The Granddaughters of Atlas. He brings the viewer into a world of color and design and seemingly gravity-defying wall-hung sculptures that will delight and amaze – while at the same time bringing the peacefulness one would gain from a walk in the woods.
Downs, a native of Greenbelt, MD, grew up exploring, playing and falling in love with the woods– the Great North Woods, as he calls them – of Greenbelt. When this belt of green came under the threat of development in the late 1980s, Downs became a leader in the successful crusade to save these woods – now named the Greenbelt Forest Preserve. In 2017, 15 years after the forest was put into the protection of the forest preserve ordinance by the Greenbelt City Council, Downs was named Greenbelt’s Outstanding Citizen thereby honoring the work he and the Committee to Save the Greenbelt did to save the town’s namesake – the Green Belt.