Saturday, September 25, 2010

Final Comments on Furniture Society Conference Exhibits

As a follow-up to earlier comments on the Furniture Society Conference in June, I have a few more images to share.

Inside the conference center there was another exhibit. Even though it was open all members, and was non-juried, the quality was still very high (not very surprising considering hacks don't normally pay for Furniture Society membership).

Furniture artists commonly make furniture that is more sculpture than functional furniture but this piece by Jerry Spady, Air-Aquarium, takes this art form a step further by making a pure sculpture in the form of traditional furniture. Unfortunately, back-lighting from the large window made photographing it very difficult but it is still possible to see the impeccable construction and concept. Two large leafy sea dragon (
Phycodurus eques) sculptures float in a 19th century style case. Very Victorian in execution but very contemporary in concept.
claro walnut, tiger maple, etimoe
Jerry Spady

The back side gives a better sense of the colors. You can also see the marquetry "shadows" of the sea dragons.
Air-aquarium (back-side)

Derrick Method brought two discarded book pieces to the conference. I like his economical design concept. I have to conclude that, following eight years of the G. W. Bush administration's distaint and disregard of international agreements, using empty binders titled "United States Treaties and Other International Agreements" for this Treaties Table is probably more political statement than coincidence. Regardless, the concept is cool and at least someone found something useful to do with these discarded documents.
Treaties Table
Discarded Books, wood, glass
Derrick Method

He also brought this SCB Bench made with books titled "Survey of Current Business." Not sure what he might be saying about current business practices but the piece has a retro 50's (maybe early 60's) look to it.
SCB Bench
discarded books, wood
Derrick Method

I also enjoyed Brian Gladwell and Jason Schneider's untitled collaborative submission. They have both developed a portfolio of cardboard furniture individually so it is interesting, and perhaps not very surprising, to see them team up on a piece. The texture and patterns they capture with cardboard is very dramatic and it also has a recycling theme.
cardboard, wood, wallboard compound
Brian Gladwell and Jason Schneider

Also in the conference center was an exhibit of work donated for the live and silent auction to benefit the Furniture Society. Although there were a number of great artists who made very generous contributions to the auction (it is easy to become jaded when looking at one great piece next to another) work by two artists stood out the most for me. First, these exquisite horse andirons by Judy Kensley McKie. They help to increase my anticipation for her show of new work at Gallery NAGA in November.
Horse Andirons
Judy Kensley McKie

Finally, there are these two intricate pieces by Po Shun Leong. Given how well established he is as an artist (his CV is four pages of one impressive accomplishment after another), I'm surprised I hadn't been familiar with his work earlier but happy to have now become aware of it. They are both reminiscent of lace or paper giving them a light, fragile appearance, however, being made of wood, they are substantial and sturdy. They also make me feel tired just looking at every notch in the individual sections and thinking how long it took to cut each one. He must have a notch cutting machine of some kind. Update: unfortunately, the notch cutting machine doesn't exist, they are cut by hand on a band saw.
Table (unknown title)
painted wood
Po Shun Leong

Sculpture (unknown title)
painted wood
Po Shun Leong

Monday, September 13, 2010

More Coverage of the Furniture Society Conference Exhibits

Belatedly, I've finally found the time to post the final reviews of the exhibits on view at the Furniture Society Conference in Cambridge, MA a few of months ago. In addition to the Jenna Goldberg, Society of Arts and Crafts, and Historical Woods exhibits I've already written about, this post covers a juried show of New England artists, Six Degrees of Separation, and a juried outdoor furniture exhibit. The next and final post covers the members exhibit and a couple of silent auction donations. I have to thank the Furniture Society for giving me a press pass for the event. Having a blog does has its advantages every now and then; and getting to the conference was a good chance to meet a number of great artists and see a broad range of work by people I was not familiar with.

This piece, Tray, by
Rich Tannen is my favorite from all the shows I saw as part of the conference. It is very minimalistic but at the same time fascinating in its technical difficulty. The form has the subtlety of being hand-made while having a fine repetitive pattern that, although appearing machine made, doesn't have the clunkiness that one would expect from a machine. It is a perfect combination man and machine to create something that appears impossible. I also like how he has taken a common piece of maple and created an extraordinary grain pattern. Because of its subtlety, I had a real hard time capturing a good image of it so check out Rich's website for better pictures here and here.
2" x 28" x 6"
Rich Tannen

James Sagui's piece, Until Next Summer, is a great piece of trompe l'oeil sculpture. I often find that trompe l'oeil work looks better in photographs then in person but this one looks better when you are in front of it. Impeccably constructed, it requires very close inspection to find evidence that it is not what it appears to be.
Until Next Season
handcarved bleached basswood
James Sagui

After looking it over a while, I finally found evidence of wood by looking inside the mug and seeing that it was turned on a lathe.
Until Next Season (close-up)
The embossing on the book was also impeccable.
Until Next Season (close-up)

I have seen images of Mario Messina's Cephlapod lamp a number of times and found it to be every bit as impressive in person, although I was struck by how much bigger it was than I imagined. It is almost 4' long and without something to scale the image, the measurements can be easily overlooked. I placed my keys on the stand to help but because of how it was placed in the exhibit, I wasn't able to take a good image. It was actually pretty disappointing that it was placed in a tight space that didn't allow me, or anyone, to get a good look at it from the side. For a better image, look here.
hickory, bamboo, uuryu paper
26" x 47" x 21"
Mario Messina

This was also the second time I've seen, and now the second time I've mentioned, Bart Niswonger's Textured Sideboard. It is a great piece so it deserves a second mention, but it is also interesting to see it next to Rich Tannen's Tray as they are both using common lumber to create extraordinary grain patterns rather than searching for lumber with extraordinary figure.
Textured Sideboard
cherry, ash, paint
Bart Niswonger

I also enjoyed seeing Thomas Shields' sculpture Support. Constructed with nine(?) found chairs, it creates an interesting contrast between the junky/rickety look of the materials and the fine craftsmanship that it took to assemble them into one piece. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any links to his work on the Internet so his background is still a mystery to me. (Update April 29, 2011 - I've learned that Tom Shields now has a website, see it here. It shows an interesting perspective on using furniture as sculptural subjects as opposed to functional objects.)
found chairs
Thomas Shields

The Conference also included an outdoor exhibit. I really enjoyed the playful/fun nature of this seemingly children's block inspired chair by Xiaoyu Bia. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any more links to Xiaoyu's work on the Internet either.
Colour Blocks
Xiaoyu Bia

This Knit Hammock and Knitting Needle Stand by three artists -- Stephan Iino, Carol Sibley, and Janet Lord -- reminds me of Claes Oldenberg's work. Pretty cool. It really has the sense of having been created by giants.
Knit Hammock and Knitting Needle Stand
Stephan Iino, Carol Sibley, Janet Lord

Dave Barresi's Pivoting Garden Bench looks to be a lot of fun also. Coincidentally, Reagan Furqueron had a similarly designed piece, Coffee Table w/Boot on view at the Society of Arts and Crafts at the same time.
Pivoting Garden Bench
Dave Barresi

I also enjoyed Robert Rickard's inviting Conversation Bench. The way they lean back but are attached in the middle seem to give a sculptural interpretation of the push/pull nature of a good conversation.
Conversation Bench
Robert Rickard

And finally, these hay bail chairs, titled Lazy Hay and made by John Tagiuri, are fun but not particularly comfortable unless you are between 10 and 15 feet tall. You also end up smelling like hay after sitting in them for a few minutes. Not that I'm not complaining, someone aught to market a cologne, Eau de Hay. (warning: I'm suing anyone who manufactures it without giving me a cut of the sales.) I like his sense of humor and large scale design sense, especially as with this table an chair set.
Lazy Hay
John Tagiuri

Monday, September 6, 2010

New Work/Images for Fall 2010

Here are new images of my work. I have three new wood sculpture, including a new flag, and five new shellac paintings. I had been calling my wood sculptures shellac paintings but as they have become more sculptural and as I have developed a new series that are really shellac paintings, I have had to adjust my terminology. Hopefully, the change isn't too confusing.

This one,
On Edge, is made with the same lumber as Fear Not, Fall Not that I finished earlier in the year. As you can see, the figure is phenomenal in both, something of a cross between a curly and quilted maple. I used the direction of the curl/quilt as a rough guide for the end angles. You can't see from this image but each of the boards are slightly different thicknesses, ranging from about 5/8" to 7/8". It can hang in any of the four 90 degree directions but I've settled on this one for no particular reason.

On Edge
shellac on curly maple and cherry
28.5" x 34" x 1"

Peaches and Pears, below, is made with a highly figured board of curly maple. I thought I got such as great deal on the lumber -- it was marked down to $1.65/board-ft, which is about one quarter what one would usually pay for figured maple and which I figured was due to the numerous knots (which I particularly liked). However, what I didn't pay for in cash at the lumber yard I paid for 10-fold in labor. The figure is so intense that it was like working end grain the entire length of the board. Not only did I have to take extra care to prevent and fix tear-out, but it soaked up shellac like nothing else I have ever worked with.
Peaches and Pears
shellac on curly maple, cherry, and epoxy
16.5" x 54" x 0.5" Peaches and Pears (close-up)

I also finished a new flag. I had posted an image of this one months ago but after looking at it a while decided I the blue sections needed more contrast between each other and the red stripes needed to be more peachy so I took it apart (removing all 160 screws) and modified it. I'm happy with it now (I hope for good), I have no desire to take it apart again. I also decided I prefer this orientation.

Chevron Flag
shellac on curly maple, curly yellow birch, bird's-eye maple
53" x 34" x 1"
As you can see from the side view, the different pieces are off-set with the curly birch being the thinnest (about 3/4").

Chevron Flag (side-view)

I've also continued to explore the new shellac painting series and I feel that it has finally advanced beyond the experimental phase into something that I consider to have great potential for creating unique and interesting contemporary paintings. One of the things I love about it is how it captures the history of everything you have done up until the time it is finished. Every layer, every color, every coat remains visible in the final piece. It is very time consuming and frustrating (because it often feels like I'll never be able to finish the piece I'm working on) but I feel it is worth it because the effect is so unique. One unique effect is how it highlights the texture of the coats of gesso. By brushing each coat on at 90 degree angles to the previous coat it creates a textile effect in the final piece. Without the shellac the variance in ridge and valleys don't appear significant but as soon as you start brushing on the shellac they suddenly become visual mountains with valleys that appear to be impossible to fill. When the surface does finally become flat, it has a cloth-like look (unfortunately, I've found this to be impossible to capture with images).

I named this one,
And Most Positive, from what a Ukrainian friend was saying about the piece when she first saw it. In addition to thinking that this one has a very positive energy, she also thought it belonged in The Museum of Modern Art (she had visited it recently and was very disappointed with there contemporary exhibits). I didn't argue with her about its relative quality but I did have a hard time convincing her that I couldn't just submit an image for their review.
And Most Positive
shellac on board
35" x 29"

One of the amazing things about working with shellac as a painting medium is its sensitivity. Even after coating the baltic birch plywood with five coats of gesso and numerous heavy coats of clear shellac, the grain pattern of the plywood is visible in the final piece.

Six Yellow Rectangles
shellac on board
24" x 29"

Here is a close-up example.
Six Yellow Rectangles (closeup)
shellac on board
27" x 21.5"

Here is another example, it is much more visible in person.
Blue (close-up)

With these two next pieces that I had done earlier, my technique was a little different and the grain pattern isn't as visible.
Random Colored Lines
shellac on board
33" x 14.5"

As I mentioned earlier, I entered this piece, Watermelon, into the Art Hop's juried show. Though I was surprised last year to win with Three Days in September, I was equally surprised that I didn't win this year with this one. I think it is a fantastic piece, one might even say that it is the greatest painting of the nascent 21st Century. I'm trying to be as objective as possible.

shellac on board
44" x 44"

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fall 2010 Show Schedule

I have three shows scheduled for this fall. They include:

Burlington Art Hop - September 10 and 11
I have entered this new shellac painting, Watermelon, in the juried show which can be viewed at the Soda Plant at 266 Pine Street. I will also be debuting the rest of my shellac painting (eight more pieces) at the SEABA office space at 404 Pine Street where they will be on display through the end of September.
shellac on board
45" x 45"
Paradise City Northampton - October 8-10

CraftWestport - November 20-21

I will just be bringing my wood sculptures to the Northampton or Westport shows because I find it is too confusing to display both series in the same small space. I'll post images of the new work soon.