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Finding health through art

Local veteran hopes to inspires others

No. 3 Event Horizon: Over 1,000 hours of designing, experimenting and building went into this piece of woodworking art which Jim Anderson calls his best work to date. Photo credit: Jim Anderson

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Jim Anderson self-describes as an eccentric.

"I realized from a young age that I was different from most other people," the Steilacoom resident began. "When you hear someone describing something or someone as ‘outside of the box,' I would dare say that I've never been ‘in the box' with my ideas, style, demeanor, attitude, and creative processes."   

Those processes were apparent in kindergarten when he won a coloring contest.

But growing up hard and poor in Martinez, California in San Francisco's East Bay area was a challenge, one that led to Anderson having to fend for himself. Anderson related that he suffered childhood traumas that still linger today, and that he dreamed of something better for himself, to escape what he called the dark times.

"I would immerse myself in art and music," he continued, "and this hardship, I think, helped forge my resiliency and fuels my artistic creativity and talent."

His artistic talents were evident in high school as he demonstrated a penchant for art, drawing, machine and architectural drafting.

With no money for college and after having watched a video on the Army's Rangers, Anderson enlisted and went on to a 24-year career with these elites soldiers. 

Those years of service left his body and mind ravaged with injuries, and in 2017 he was medically retired from the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

But the artistic talent and eccentric turn-of-mind endured. In 2015 he founded J. Anderson Wood Works, LLC, a company which produces custom, unique and out-of-this-world woodworking art.

"Art and the creation process has helped me cope with my PTSD .... Woodworking distracts me from whatever issues or pain that may be bothering or plaguing me at that moment," Anderson revealed.

"If you see my art, you can see my various stages of progress as I learn to become a better woodworker, artist and human being."

He added that he gets ideas for his creations from books, magazines, museums, stores and the internet.

"I find ways to learn and create it from wood, and I am currently studying stained-glass and segmented woodturning."

One of those creations is "No.3 Event Horizon," a work of art that Anderson spent over 1,000 hours designing, experimenting and building. It took second place in the 2022 Master Woodworking Artist of the Year competition held in Broken Bow, Oklahoma.

"It's my best work to date, and the most mind-blowing feature is that it is intended to be viewed under both normal and ultraviolet light," Anderson said.

Others noticed, and one individual referred him to the 2022 DIY Hero Contest, an online competition pitting skilled Do-It-Yourself craftspeople with a chance to win $25,000 and a magazine feature in Make Magazine. The grand prize winner will be announced on May 5.

"I've been sitting in a solid second place through the whole competition to date, but that won't get me into the next round," he added.

But this competition is not the point of Anderson's woodworking art.

"I hope my art can inspire others to find healing through art, woodworking and creation," he concluded.

"As a veteran, it's okay to ask for help. If you are hurting, there is help out there and you are not alone. I found that adopting a dog and learning how to play the ukulele after retiring gave me purpose and kept my mind sharp. There is a therapeutic value in arts and crafts, and I hope our communities support their veterans."

To view Anderson's art, visit or

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