Ozarks Life: Brent Foster’s Humansville gallery carves out a niche

Now his full-time job, Foster’s been sculpting since the age of eight.
Foster works on his latest sculpture inside his gallery near Humansvile.
Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 5:23 AM CST
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HUMANSVILLE, Mo. (KY3) - It’s said if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. But few are talented enough to carry that passion on as a full-time job.

Inside a one-room building near Humansville, a riddle could be solved:

How much wood could a wood carver carve, if a wood carver could carve wood all day?

Brent Foster could probably tell you.

“I’ve been doing this full time since high school,” Foster said.

Foster says he is lucky that he doesn’t have to whittle time out of a schedule to do this. Creating one-of-a-kind pieces of art is his full time job.

“It’s given me the opportunity to have a lot of freedom,” Foster said. “I really appreciate that it gives me time to stay with my family.”

A lifetime of tapping and scraping that started when he was eight.

“I kind of got the bug when I went to Silver Dollar City and I saw some guys carving there,” Foster said. “I went home started with an old lineman’s knife my dad had and just never stopped.”

Eventually, Foster graduated from his dad’s telephone lineman’s knife that was used for stripping wires and called on Exacto carving tools for his passion.

“I was probably, gosh, probably about 11 and I was able to sell stuff at a local florist there in Branson,” Foster said. “So I thought, ‘I could make a lot of money at it.’ And that really helped motivate me.”

By 16, Foster was working at Silver Dollar City, sitting next to guys with beards that now resemble his. Today, he uses tools that are sharper than a surgeon’s. Doctoring chunks of wood into whatever his imagination creates from his love of Western Art.

“I try to convey a message or an emotion or a feeling,” Foster said. “I try to set myself apart by doing larger pieces that are more complex.”

A life sized project could take up to three months to complete. And sometimes he branches out and takes on commission work.

“I get asked to do pieces and I generally accept the piece,” Foster said. “But they’re not nearly as fun because it’s not my imagination so much taking over as somebody else’s.”

Foster has spent recent years traveling the United States showing off his work. But with these shows disappearing, some of Foster’s most treasured work is now sitting on display at his property.

“So we revamped and remodeled this building into a gallery,” Foster said, “we’re trying to go that route.”

Foster is hopeful this gallery will continue to be filled and fill the void of the lack of shows.

“Just give us a call,” Foster said, “make a time and we will be here.”

And as for the riddle of how much carving he’s done...

“Over the course of my life,” Foster said, “we’ve probably gone three-quarters of a semi trailer’s worth (of sculptures).” It’s been a lot.”

Brent Foster’s gallery is on Highway O just south of Humansville. You can learn more at his website by clicking here or you can reach Foster at (417) 298-9084.

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