Denny Rust

During the month of March, the Village Gallery of Local Artists will celebrate the finely crafted woodwork of artist Denny Rust. A reception will be held at the gallery on Friday, March 4th from 5 pm until 8 pm.

Denny Rust creates a wide range of projects including massive Mission-style beds, tables, chairs, custom frames, and functional art. With master machinist skill and exacting woodworking, Rust diligently attends to the smallest detail and focuses on precision joinery such as splined miters and mortise and tenon joints. He states that “If it’s worth cutting a tree down, it’s worth doing it right”.

Rust’s motto is “In it for the outcome, not the income.” All of the proceeds from “RustArt” sales are donated to charity.  He says “God gives us such beautiful and amazing woods to work with – it’s only natural to give the proceeds of my work back to God by supporting local charities that help people.”

Rust was born with debilitating asthma, which severely curtailed his activities as a child, including playing with other kids or regularly attending school. Desperate for a solution for their son’s health, his family decided Rust should live with his uncle in Arizona. On the drive out west, they noticed that he was well by the time they reached Albuquerque. That school year in Tucson, Rust’s recovery allowed him to enjoy all the childhood experiences he had previously missed out on. Thus with hope for their son’s healthy future, the Rust family made the giant leap; sold everything and moved from their farm in Indiana to Tucson, where they were without home or work.

Everything worked out well for the family when Rust’s father became a successful residential contractor. By spending summers apprenticing with his father, Rust became enamored with the potential for creativity and function that wood offers, and honed his craftsmanship skills. Rust also excelled in his high school precision machining and welding vocational classes. His beloved shop teacher, Mr. Bishop, inspired him to one day become a teacher.

Immediately out of high school, Rust enlisted in the Navy and served during the Vietnam War. Later he used the GI Bill to go to college, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Education, a Master’s degree in Vocational Education, and an Educational Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. Rust achieved his dream of becoming a teacher. Not satisfied long with just that, he eventually became the Director of Career and Technical Education for the Flagstaff School District. In all, Rust’s career consisted of 26 years in the classroom and 5 years in administration.

Rust jokes that in order to support his and his wife’s teaching habits, he moonlighted as a residential contractor during his working years.  Once retired, Rust was able to focus on designing and building his own home, including a 2,400 square foot dream workshop. In this studio, and with the freedom of retirement, Rust can now pour his considerable energy and creativity into fashioning fine custom furniture and specialty items. Rust’s wife Stephanie says “If the sun is up, Denny is in his shop.”

Trips to buy quality native hardwoods take Rust to the Amish communities in the Appalachian hill country of Ohio every few years. Imported exotic and colorful woods also add eye-catching dimensions to his work. While Rust is well versed in many styles of woodwork, he favors the time-honored Craftsman/Arts and Crafts traditional designs.

The Village Gallery invites the public to attend the reception on Friday, March 4thfrom 5 pm – 8 pm. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet Denny Rust of “RustArt” and see his work. Other member artists will also attend, and refreshments will be served.

Open 7 days a week from 10 am until 6 pm, The Village Gallery is located at 6512 State Route 179 in the Village of Oak Creek. Applications for new membership are available. For more information, stop by the gallery, call (928) 284-1416, or visit the website at