Pritam & Eames, The Gallery of Original Furniture
Archives: The First Decade
The Gallery of Original Furniture


1981 - 1991: The First Decade
© Copyright 2005 Pritam & Eames

The New York Times called PRITAM & EAMES the "Gallery of Original Furniture" when it opened on May 21, 1981, in a converted 19th-century steam laundry building in East Hampton, NY. In its opening show, the gallery exhibited work by makers who would become instrumental in shaping the course of the American studio furniture movement. The following selection of announcements and work from the gallery's first decade records its commitment to studio furniture and chronicles the strength and originality that establishes this field as a vital 20th century decorative art.


Founders, Bebe Pritam Johnson and Warren Eames Johnson, 1981.




Note from the editors:

This document was created as a single scrolling page. It is long. If printed, the document could run from 140 to 160 pages. The editors have made every effort to align the images with their mention in the text. Words underlined in the text indicate work pictured.



The conversation of artistic and design styles that continues to give studio furniture its signature vigor today was set in play for the gallery by the work exhibited in its 1981 opening show. When pattern books are cast aside, all possibilities are open. This was the backdrop of energy from the 1970s when major currents of design philosophy were at work, some of which had begun decades earlier. Underlying all was the acceptance of function, and of wood as the preferred medium of expression. Because of its familiarity, furniture retains an intimacy in our lives and is in this sense always personal. But the idea that furniture could have a personality as individualistic as its maker defines studio furniture. The notion of the artist-craftsman -- the person who conceives the piece also makes it -- is the conceptual underpinning of this 20th century decorative arts movement.

Gallery entrance door design
by James Schriber

About Pritam & Eames

One's forties is a time when altering choice can still be made. Bebe Pritam and Warren Johnson made theirs at 40. After working in New York City for 15 years -- she was director of Asian Program Operations at the Council on International Educational Exchange, and he was a freelance cameraman-editor in documentary films -- they knew by the mid-1970s that they were ready for a change. They decided to gamble on their own business, one in which they could combine their talents and about which they could feel passionate.

Once they made their decision, it seemed that disparate threads from their respective pasts pulled together. Warren Johnson's grandfather did coach work for the Pullman Company in Chicago, and he grew up with some of his grandfather's furniture as well as a sensibility for craftsmanship. Johnson also made a few pieces of furniture during the couple's graduate school days in Boston and New York. They were influenced when a good friend opened his store in Brussels in 1968 that featured high-end Italian and Scandinavian-designed furniture. Through colleagues at the Japan Society in New York, Bebe Johnson was introduced to the furniture of George Nakashima. While visiting friends on the eastern tip of Long Island in the early '70s, they came across a small house for sale in East Hampton in dire need of repair. It answered their needs exactly. They quit their jobs and, with their young daughter, established themselves in East Hampton.

There, the Johnsons sought out Warren Pedula, a former Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) student and sculptor whose Bridgehampton rocker they had noticed in a local store. They also met their first furniture maker, Peter Korn, who lived in nearby Wainscott, during this time. Korn introduced them to the writings of James Krenov, and Pedula told them about Fine Woodworking's design book series. This led the couple to John Kelsey, then editor of Fine Woodworking. Initially, Warren Johnson approached Kelsey with the idea of doing a documentary film about studio furniture making. However, it was Kelsey's advice in 1979 that led the couple on a yearlong odyssey of visits to furniture makers and schools in the Northeast. Kelsey pointed out there were many furniture makers creating fine pieces of furniture that were mostly sold privately. He observed that the entrepreneurial end of the field was wide open. The Johnsons sensed that this was the challenge they were seeking. They applied for and received one of the last Small Business Administration loans to help women and minorities get started in business. They were ready to take the plunge into a business of their own. The name for their business came easily enough: Eames is Warren's family name, and Pritam is Bebe's maiden name. Otherwise, they would have been Johnson & Johnson.


There were two early encounters that encouraged the Johnsons: in l979 they visited the Richard Kagan gallery in Philadelphia, and in 1980 they attended a furniture show hosted at the Roitman showroom in Providence. Kagan's sliver of a shop on South Street in Philadelphia was virtually the only place where an interested observer could get a sense of the maker energy percolating in the East. Kagan, a furniture maker himself, was an inspiration to the partners because of his knowledgeable selection of work.

It was Tim Philbrick who invited the partners to see a group show held at the Roitman furniture store in Providence, RI. The show was organized by Tage Frid and John Dunnigan, and included work by them as well as by other southern New England furniture makers including Philbrick, Hank Gilpin, Rosanne Somerson, Alphonse Mattia, and George Gordon.

The Design Book series by Taunton Press offered another important source of information for the Johnsons, as were catalogues from museum shows such as the 1972 Woodenworks exhibit at the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC, and the 1979 New Handmade Furniture exhibition organized by the American Craft Museum in New York.


The partners' task for the opening exhibition was to choose work from a multifacted, multi-centered field. By 1980, they had met Jere Osgood in Boston. His steering would be invaluable to the gallery since the studio furniture landscape was largely unlit at the time of the partners' research in the late 1970s.

One of their most important discoveries, however, was closer to home. It was their future landlord, Leif Hope, without whose support and encouragement the partners acknowledge they surely would have had a more difficult road and possibly have failed. Tucked away on a back street in East Hampton, the 19th-century steam laundry building owned by Hope has been the gallery address for nearly 25 years. This location was perfect for the Johnsons because the stabilized rent not only made their expenses manageable, but also allowed an unhurried pace for them to develop an audience for studio furniture. One of their first acts as Pritam & Eames was to commission James Schriber to make an entrance door for the gallery. They reasoned that his padauk and aniline-dyed ash door would provide a clue from the outside as to what was inside.

Good friends and owners of New York's Soho Charcuterie catered the gallery's opening on May 21, 1981. Many of the furniture makers came, providing enduring insight into their love of a good party. One of them said to a Fine Woodworking editor, "If any gallery is going to make it, it'll be this one."

Although the gallery's first years were a financial struggle typical of a shoe string venture, the partners consider their timing extremely fortuitous. It was during this period that resilient friendships were forged with many of the furniture makers. During this first decade, the Johnsons' small house was often filled with visiting furniture makers who lived in a style similar to theirs. Many shared a '60s background fueled by the belief that you can make a living by doing work that you love, and that such work would be valued by others. The challenge for these artist-craftsmen, then as now, is how do they make this work their own. Pritam & Eames has been privileged to be in place to learn more about why these gifted individuals do what they do and to be there for them as a showcase for their ideas in progress.

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Selections from the Opening Exhibition - 1981

Opening Exhibition
Bruce Beeken, Larry Bickford, Wendell Castle, Richard Cohen, Michael Coffey, Nancy Crow (quilts), Ron Curtis, Tom Duffy, John Dunnigan, David Ebner, Stephen Dale Edwards (glass), John Everdell, Hank Gilpin, George Gordon, Maurice Hopson (rugs), Thomas Hucker, Michael Hurwitz, Hunter Kariher, William Keyser, Peter Korn, Mark Lindquist, Judy Kensley McKie, Robert March, Wendy Maruyama, Alphonse Mattia, George Nakashima, Richard Scott Newman, Timothy S. Philbrick, Peter Resnick, James Schriber, Rob Sperber, Pam Topham (tapestries), Jeffrey Urciuoli, Newell White, Jonathan Wright

NOTES: In the opening show, Wendell Castle contributed an elegantly mannered, but rakishly stated, walnut and elm game table with four chairs that the Johnsons had spotted in his studio in 1980. Although the partners were principally seeking the work of the generation that succeeded Castle, they knew that a contribution from someone as well regarded as Castle lent substance to their efforts and they appreciated his contribution to a completely untested gallery.

Judy Kensley McKie's work has much in common with the spirit-imbued carving of primitive cultures. Her images suggest energies beyond what you see. (See Notes, McKie l987 show). She was represented in the opening exhibit with a console table in the form of a pair of carved mahogany dogs supporting a glass top. She also showed a walnut blanket chest with carved bird and floral motifs in the facades, patterns that continue in her work today.

Bill Keyser, on faculty at the School for American Craftsmen at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), took his command of technique and applied it first to form and then to function. He was exceptional in the opening show in that he contributed a nonfunctional piece that was a wall sculpture made from long sections of walnut and cherry branches. He also showed a branched-formed clothes tree, that could stand alone as sculpture.

Alphonse Mattia's red mirror, which utilized exotic hardwoods and a red lacquer shaped form as part of its frame, also took a decided sculptural direction. Mattia began with a mirror as a starting point but otherwise, the piece was a study of pure form, material, and color. He would continue to develop a series of sophisticated mirrors that featured carving, color, texture, and imagery that served him well in the gallery world during the 1980s.

Rob Sperber, Hank Gilpin, and Peter Korn contributed work to the opening show that could be described as "Krenovian" in approach. While McKie might first bring the piece to life as a sketch, James Krenov evolved a philosophy that saw the piece in the material. He published his ideas in four books in the mid-1970s, starting with The Cabinetmaker's Notebook. Krenov was not an advocate of building furniture from drawings. He didn't want a student to be obsessed with dimensions. Instead, he wanted a maker to see a piece in the material itself. If you could envision an important aspect of the piece in the material, then the rest of the piece would follow. Krenov's approach involves "seeing" like McKie, but with wood as material poetry. Many makers would be affected by Krenov's message. Sperber's thread cabinet and tie cabinet are good examples of material poetry, with great skill lavished on minor utility. Peter Korn's dictionary stand is at once functional, has a gentle sculptural attitude, and presents its material as a major dimension. His rocking chair ventures into a functional form not encouraged by Krenov. Its simple and slender Shaker-like sensibility is complemented by hand-woven fabric on the seat. Gilpin, as well, had a passion for material-just-right, and his pieces in the opening show would forecast his direction for the upcoming decades. In thinking about furniture he might say, "First, see a piece and its use in a room that is lived in. Second, bring just the right materials together for this piece." A strong part of the freshness of Gilpin's work is the use of always unusual, but seldom exotic, material. This is particularly evident in his white oak chest on stand but also in his curly maple bench and tea cart. The low base of the chest, with its novel asymmetrical extension and the simple beauty of the repeating, swelled drawer fronts, is emblematic of what would make his work appealing to so many in the years to come. Gilpin's furniture goes to the heart of livable, serviceable work that is designed with a clean material appeal in mind.

Tim Philbrick's sophisticated Pier Table of East Indian rosewood represents fine furniture as an outgrowth of early 20th-century European design movements. Philbrick had apprenticed with an antique restorer and reproduction maker in Rhode Island before joining the Program in Artisanry (PIA) at Boston University. His hero was Louis Majorelle, 1859-1926, master of Art Nouveau, and Philbrick was one of several working this way in what would become a strong movement in the 1980s that reestablished neoclassical references in studio furniture.
However, the pier table in this show, Philbrick says, more directly referenced Art Deco. John Dunnigan's boudoir chair in walnut with its two tones of peach colored velvet fabric, and his wall-hung console and mirror, also make this aesthetic connection.

Judy Kensley McKie - carved Walnut
Bird and Fern Chest

Wendell Castle - Walnut and Elm Game Table, Chairs
Judy Kensley McKie - Mahogany
Table with Dogs

Alphonse Mattia - Red Lacquer Mirror Detail
William Keyser -
Walnut Clothes Tree

William Keyser - Maple and Walnut Split Branch Wall Sculpture
Rob Sperber - Walnut Thread Cabinet

Hank Gilpin - Maple Bench Detail
Hank Gilpin - Oak Chest on Stand

Hank Gilpin - Curly Maple Tea Cart

Peter Korn - Cherry Dictionary Stand

Peter Korn - Rocker

Timothy Philbrick - Rosewood Pier Table

John Dunnigan- Walnut and Velvet Chair

John Dunnigan - Mahogany Table and Mirror

David Ebner - Wishbone Oak Rocker

Richard Newman - Mahogany Blanket Chest
Richard Newman - Black Limba
Coffee Table Base
Bruce Beeken - Bubinga Low Table

Wendy Maruyama - Padauk Bench

Thomas Hucker - Sitka Spruce Box
Mark Lindquist - Maple Burl Bowl
George Gordon -Teak and Mahogany Sideboard

George Gordon's handsome sideboard represented the continuation of a strong furniture making program at RISD that had been established by Tage Frid, and where Gordon had studied under John Dunnigan.

David Ebner, RIT-trained, was influenced by Castle's design abilities as well as by the earlier work of Wharton Esherick. In his Wishbone Rocker, he is closer to Castle. One can see the hooped base used by Castle and Ebner in their chairs for this show. In both cases, the seat is cantilevered in form and the chairs' strength depends on the stile-to-hoop joint at the floor. In the rocker, the entire form uses bent lamination technique.

Also evolving from RIT and Castle's influence, Richard Newman was represented by two continuous veneer-formed low tables, as well as by the tour de force shaping of his solid Honduras mahogany blanket chest. He had not yet offended collegial sensibilities with his sumptuous neo-neoclassical work in ebony and gold
, with which he would soon be identified.

The virtuosity nurtured by the PIA program was represented in the opening show in a minor key. Perhaps the most dramatic contribution by a PIA graduate was the entrance door in padauk and blackened ash commissioned of James Schriber. Both Wendy Maruyama and Bruce Beeken contributed free-form benches which are remarkably similiar in feeling considering the divergent paths these two influential studio furniture makers would take in the future.
The absence of work from Jere Osgood was due to his continuing responsibilities as the director of the PIA program.

The opening was well attended, but the partners held their breath for the first sales. The early years would prove to be a financial tightrope for the gallery.

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Announcement of 1982 Show Schedule

1982: New work from America's top designer-craftsmen
Neal Barkon, Larry Bickford, Michael Coffey, Ron Curtis, David Ebner, David Ellsworth, Hank Gilpin, Michael Hurwitz, Hunter Kariher, William Keyser, Silas Kopf, Alan Lorn, Judy McKie, Charles Mark, Alan Marks, Richard Newman, Timothy Philbrick, Robert Sperber, Leslie Wells, Newell White, Jonathan Wright.

NOTES: This show opened the gallery's second season. Seminal work from John Dunnigan and Richard Newman arrived this year. Newman's stunning dining table opened the 1982 season and Dunnigan's Versailles Table arrived for the Masters show later in the summer. These pieces established both makers as individual stylists from whom much could be expected.

Richard Newman's dining room extension table in cherry, ebony, and ormolu broke radically with his past. A commission requested by his mother-in-law forced him to abandon his RIT Modernist style of work in favor of Louis XVI. Prior to working in the Modernist vein that he says was encouraged at RIT, Newman had made banjos. And it was the musical instrument making that prepared him for the fine decorative work that characterizes his furniture from here on. The dining room table combines cherry and ebony on the legs and apron, which also features cast gold-plated ormolu of androgynous faces set in relief. The table has a resawn, hand-planed top of figured cherry veneer. The effect of this combination is stunning, like nothing else in studio furniture at the time. Although the use of gold was anathema to some and considered elitist by others, Newman was mostly undisturbed. He said, "Gold is noble, it's a perfect material."

When a piece sets a mark, it usually provokes some discussion. Work from others in the exhibit shows how well they, too, struck the vein of a successful personal furniture style. Such a piece is Tim Philbrick's pearwood and leather chair. The leather seat and back are tailored into an elegant pearwood frame, and outlined with red leather piping.

Judy McKie's carved and painted plant stand shows her inimitable blend of animal and invented form. The skyward seeking thrust of the bird's head, wings, and legs is a gesture that communicates to everyone.

With its fan-like form, the stylish padauk and purpleheart chest of drawers by Michael Hurwitz inverts the cabinetmaker's usual approach. In this case the largest drawer is on the top with the size of the drawers diminishing as they descend.

David Ebner's English brown oak sofa table and chair demonstrate the strong impression that Wharton Esherick's style of work had on him. In the sofa table, he made use of a "poured leg" design for the first time: the top appears to continue and flow down into the leg form.

You could dance on Gilpin's sassafras low table, affectionately dubbed a "foot stomper." It shows his fresh treatment of familiar form, as well as his preference for under-utilized domestic hardwoods.

Some makers become associated with a single piece. Such was the case of Jonathan Wright's bubinga/maple dining room extension table. Without its leaves, the top is a deltoid or inflated triangle; with the addition of its three leaves, the top of the three-legged table becomes round. Wright would continue to make versions of this popular design into the 1990s.
Signature Pieces - Summer 1982
Alan Lorn - Cherry Fallfront Desk

Richard Scott Newman - Cherry, Ebony and Gold Extension Dining Table
Richard Newman - Cherry, Ebony, Gold
and Silk Chair

Richard Newman -
Details of Dining Table
Michael Hurwitz - Purpleheart and Padauk
Chest of Drawers
Judy Kensley McKie - Bird Table
David Ebner - English Brown Oak
Sofa Table and Chair
Tim Philbrick - Pearwood and Leather Chair
Hank Gilpin - Oak Foot Stomper Table
Jonathan Wright - Bubinga and Maple
Extension Table

Work from the Masters - 1982

Work from the Masters
Wendell Castle, Michael Coffey, John Dunnigan, Wharton Esherick, Tage Frid, William Keyser, Sam Maloof, Alphonse Mattia, George Nakashima, Jere Osgood.
Lecture by Wendell Castle, introduction by Jack Lenor Larsen.

NOTES: This show paid tribute to those who helped shape the course of the studio furniture movement by their work and through their teaching. With the seven-year apprenticeship system a tradition of the past, the academic training centers on American campuses that developed in the 1960s and 1970s proved crucial to the development of the studio furniture movement. In addition to providing basic furniture making skills, these structured academic programs took place in an environment that ultimately fostered a freer, more dynamic approach to design. The schools also provided the opportunity for friendships and a spirit of camaraderie to develop between students and teachers which, in many cases, lasted long after graduation.

At this point it might be helpful to give a sketch of some of the personalities in place at the time of the gallery's opening and to note the diversity of their background disciplines.
Wharton Esherick's singular visionary authorship is generally acknowledged as the source of the American studio furniture movement. Trained in the fine arts in the early twentieth century, Esherick went from painting to woodcut printing, and then to sculpture and furniture in the 1920s. He received public notice when he collaborated with Philadelphia architect George Howe on a room setting for the 1939 World's Fair. Esherick's legacy was that he showed the possibility of using wood to create sculptural furniture forms. He was also instrumental in showing the way to use found objects, such as materials from the woods or even from one's backyard, in furniture. Self-taught, he was not bound to the use of a particular set of tools or techniques and advocated the use of anything that would get the job done. Esherick's 1965 cherry and red oak library ladder in this show was borrowed from the collection of Jack Lenor Larsen, an early avid Esherick collector.

Wharton Esherick - Cherry Library Ladder
George Nakashima - Walnut Conoid Chair
Sam Maloof - Walnut Rocker

Jere Osgood - Maple Side Chair
Tage Frid - Mahogany
Flip-Top Game Table

Wendell Castle - Curly English Sycamore
and Ebony Demilune

William Keyser - Maple and Padauk
Shelf Cabinet
John Dunnigan - Wenge, Purpleheart, and
Epoxy Resin Table

  Another important figure in the early stages of the studio furniture movement was George Nakashima. Trained as an architect, Nakashima turned to furniture as a form of building in which he could involve himself "from beginning to end." He was among the Japanese-Americans interred during World War II in a detainment center in Idaho. It was there that he learned how to use traditional Japanese hand tools. Upon his release, Nakashima moved to New Hope, PA, where he produced furniture emphasizing simple lines and a respect for wood. With his shrewd business sense, as well as his background in design and architecture, Nakashima's one-man shop soon expanded to include a dozen skilled craftsmen. By the time the partners met Nakashima in 1979, his philosophy and practice to preserve the splendor of wood by making objects of use had evolved to such an extent that he had a much larger public audience than most studio furniture makers would ever enjoy. As Edward Cooke observed in New American Furniture:The Second Generation of Studio Funituremakers (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, catalogue, 1989), "Esherick and Nakashima gained a foothold in the high-end furniture market after World War II primarily through their architectural connections, but their subsequent success was also closely linked to the emergence of the studio craft movement of the 1950s. In furniture, different aspects of this movement arose among the self-taught and within the educational system."
George Nakashima did not work with galleries as he did not like middlemen, but he agreed to support the fledgling Pritam & Eames with one of his Conoid chairs, this one in Persian walnut.

The 1950s also saw other self-taught woodworkers like Art Carpenter and Sam Maloof develop their interest in furniture design and construction into new careers. Sam Maloof's 1955 walnut rocker in the P&E show was borrowed from the American Craft Museum collection.

Interestingly, it fell to Tage Frid, a Danish cabinetmaker trained in the traditional European apprenticeship system, to establish the first college-level programs in this country with a furniture major, first at Dartmouth College in l948 and then at RIT when the program moved there in 1950. His traditional approach to design and his exhortation to students "to design around construction" exerted a profound influence, as well as reaction, on those who studied with him. Frid's students included Jere Osgood, Dan Jackson, and Bill Keyser. Frid left RIT to establish the furniture program at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 1962, where his emeritus influence continues today with former students Rosanne Somerson, John Dunnigan, and Alphonse Mattia on faculty. In the Masters show, Frid's contemporary take on the game table was based on a simple flip-and-twist mechanism. As with most of his work, the detailing itself was kept to a minimum. The solid stance of the table, its clean functionality, and its handsome material show how Frid continued to be influenced by a modernist approach.

When Frid left RIT for RISD, he was replaced by Wendell Castle, with Bill Keyser as Castle's teaching assistant. If Frid represented traditional cabinetmaking skills as practiced abroad in a journeyman's life, then Castle was his antithesis. He was inspired more by what was going on in contemporary sculpture than by furniture. Trained as an industrial designer and sculptor, Castle created wood furniture during the sixties and seventies utilizing the same stack-laminated techniques favored by other contemporary sculptors. As a teacher, his approach was radically different from Frid's. Instead of "design around construction," it was "
'bring out the sketchbooks." Castle began his own studio school in the early eighties in Scottsville, NY. He was represented in this show by his sycamore and ebony demilune, part of his "fine furniture" series first shown at the Alexander Milliken Gallery in New York the previous year. He would later eschew this body of work, which had been inspired by the French ébéniste Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, as overly reliant on skill. Much of Castle's work came to P&E in the 1980s as a result of the partners' friendship with Castle's New York dealer, Alexander (Sandy) Milliken.

Bill Keyser came from a family where technical know-how was second nature. When Castle left RIT in 1969, Keyser took over as head of the furniture program, where he remained until his retirement in 1997. Keyser's padauk and maple shelf and wall-hung cabinet is a piece defined in linear terms. By using laminations of woods in contrasting colors, the linear form gains rhythm. As with most of Keyser's work, this piece combines innovative process with a sculptor's sense of form.

When Krenov left PIA abruptly in 1976, it fell to Jere Osgood, and Dan Jackson, to lead the program in Boston. Alphonse Mattia would succeed Jackson at PIA as Jackson's health deteriorated. Osgood and Mattia provided a decade of inspirational teaching at PIA from l976-l986.

The wide crest rail of Osgood's 1978 curly maple chair in this show evokes the outstanding chair designs by Hans Wegner of Denmark. And, in fact, as a student, Osgood worked for a year in Denmark, although he did not train with Wegner. Osgood's body of work comes from a consideration of the lines found in nature's forms. This chair takes ergonomics as a starting point and arrives at a form that is strikingly organic and inviting. The comfortable seat, made of belt leather, avoids the visual bulk and technical fussiness of upholstery. This side chair is one of Osgood's three classic chair forms, the other two being his dining chair (see 10 x 16, 1991) and his easy chair (see P&E Editions, 1994).

Alphonse Mattia studied with Dan Jackson at the Philadelphia College of Art (PCA) and then with Tage Frid at RISD in the seventies. He said that he wanted to make a series of objects that were related to function, but not ruled by it. He was represented in the Masters show by his red lacquer mirror from the year before, which would not sell until it was reintroduced at the gallery's tenth anniversary show.

The business end of studio furniture depends on a relatively small group of buyers. Although these buyers represent considerable connoisseurship, few among them are willing to purchase pieces simply because of their excellence. In the world of fine arts, the case may be different -- it is not uncommon to keep prized paintings in storage. Studio furniture is collected primarily as a means towards an end -- a piece usually represents a fulfillment of a specific need. Time and again, pieces of exceptional quality remain unsold. These cases are often heartbreaking for the maker, as well as for the gallery.

At the time of this show, John Dunnigan was RISD's principal instructor in furniture making. For the Masters show, he made a side table that referenced the same 18th-century French furniture period as Richard Newman's dining table seen earlier, but with more of an attitude. Both tables perch on versions of the spade foot, though Newman used gold-plated bronze, while Dunnigan used cast epoxy resin. The rose color of the epoxy, seen on the feet and the rim of the tabletop, stands boldly against, yet remains sympathetic to, the wenge legs and the purpleheart top. [This Dunnigan side table would be included in the 2003-04 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston exhibit, The Maker's Hand, American Studio Furniture, 1940-1990.]

At the time, Michael Coffey had his own studio school in Poultney, VT, and was represented in the Masters show by a dressing table suite including a mirror and stool in mozambique.

Although not represented in this show, the gallery would exhibit the work of David Powell, director of the Leeds Design Workshop, Easthampton, MA, the following year.

After his brief stay at both RIT and PIA, James Krenov went west to northern California and formed the wood program at the College of the Redwoods in 1981. He was not represented in the Masters show, but would send his first work to the gallery the following year. His work, and that of his students, became an important source of furniture making talent for the gallery that continues today.

The Masters show was meant to acquaint people who walked through the door with some of the seminal figures whose work originated the field of studio furniture. In actuality, it was the well priced work of the masters' students, the coming generation of furniture makers, that allowed the gallery to survive its critical first years.
The Design Approach: Wendy Maruyama & Ed Zucca - 1982 Furniture Making: The Design Approach

NOTES: The work of Wendy Maruyama and Ed Zucca was the subject of P&E's first featured show, and it provided an opportunity for the young gallery to showcase furniture as original artistic expression. However, the confidence of the collecting public had yet to match the experimentalism and exuberance of the work. Later, Maruyama said that she was embarrassed that none of her pieces sold from this, her first featured exhibit. A supportive marketplace had not yet been created by galleries for art-driven furniture.

The expressive nature of Zucca's and Maruyama's furniture styles can be traced to their background influences as well as their circumstances. Maruyama graduated from San Diego State University in 1975 where she studied with woodworker/sculptor Larry Hunter, whose work would appear in the gallery in 1984. While still in San Diego, Maruyama saw the catalogue for Fantasy Furniture, a 1966 show that included work by Tommy Simpson and Wendell Castle at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York. This was furniture to which she could aspire. Having read about the work being done by Alphonse Mattia on the east coast, she enrolled at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and spent a semester studying with him. She followed Mattia to PIA in 1976 when he began teaching there with Jere Osgood. After two years at PIA, Maruyama went on to earn an MFA from RIT. At the time of the P&E show, Maruyama was teaching along with Tom Hucker at the Appalachian Center for Crafts in Smithville, TN.
Wendy Maruyama - Primary Chairs

Wendy Maruyama- Mickey Mackintosh Chair

Wendy Maruyama - I-15 to Vegas

Ed Zucca - Captain Video Table of Painted Basswood and
Raku Ceramic Tiles by Kathy Yokum
Ed Zucca - UFO Light
Ed Zucca - Flourescent Electric Table
Ed Zucca -
Floor Standing Light with Red Fan
    Ed Zucca maintained his studio in Putnam, CT. He had studied with Dan Jackson in the late 1960s at PCA, a period when Philadelphia was a dynamic center of innovative craft work. Zucca's interests in tinkering and building were already well established, and his work referenced a variety of influences from Art Deco, Egyptian, and pre-Columbian architecture, Shaker furniture, to American cars and gadgets of the 1950s, to space-age fantasy-fueled objects.
Zucca's wall-mounted light took the form of a Twilight Zone flying saucer, and his sound-emitting sideboard whined when someone would pass by. His space-crafted work, was an adventurous and humorous take on studio furniture. However, it is always a question, when embedding a high degree of novelty in a substantial piece, whether the longevity of comment is at variance with the investment.

Maruyama's puckish Mickey MacIntosh chair was paired with her three painted Primary Chairs, with plate-glass seats. Her work was, in part, influenced by what was going on in contemporary Italian design at the time, a colorful style that came to be known as Memphis. Maruyama's first work in neon, I-15 to Vegas, appeared in her P&E show, a lamp that also included colored marquetry. Her infamous Scribble Desk arrived at the gallery in 1983. Its appearance, together with Garry Bennett's Nail Cabinet, on the back cover of a 1980 Fine Woodworking magazine, fueled the gathering discussion as to whether work like this was furniture or something else.
The Bowl, the Vase, and the Box - 1982

Turned Work: The Bowl, the Vase, and the Box
David Ellsworth, Silas Kopf, Ed Moulthrop, Philip Moulthrop, Richard Scott Newman, Del Stubbs.

This exhibit included the work of four turners and two furniture makers who contributed boxes. Of the turners, Ed Moulthrop enjoyed a national reputation, and David Ellsworth was steadily building one of his own. The highlight of the exhibition, though, was the small, almost paper-thin, manzanita vessels of Del Stubbs.

Silas Kopf contributed boxes with floral marquetry patterns, and Richard Scott Newman again demonstrated his mastery with ebony and gold. One shallow lidded box of ebony has a contemporary feel to it, utilizing platinum as well as gold wire in its diagonally dashed pattern. The other ebony box has an inlaid mother-of-pearl image of Pegasus against an ebony night sky.
Ed Moulthrop - Turned Tulipwood Bowls
Del Stubbs - Manzanita Goblets
David Ellsworth - Turned Bowl

Silas Kopf - Boxes with Marquetry
Richard Newman - Ebony Lidded Boxes
The Desk and the Reading Chair - 1982

Reading and Writing: The Desk and the Chair
Lawrence Bickford, John Dodd, Tom Duffy, David Ebner, George Gordon, Peter Korn, Thomas Loeser, Ben Mack, Bruce McQuilken, Robert March, Alan Marks, Craig Marks, Michael Rosen, David Steckler.

NOTES: Group shows are, by their nature, diverse in spirit. Nevertheless the serious observer will always come up with a few unprompted favorites, which gives these shows the excitement of the hunt. Thematically, of course, there can be some unifying concept such as, in this show, the desk. The gallery partners had received advice from design professionals that people would only be inclined to invest in pieces for the public areas of the home. The partners found, however, that a favorite piece for the collecting public was the desk, which normally would go into the private area of the home.

Both the rosewood writing table with drawer by Craig Marks, and the padauk roll-top desk of Robert March, have unusually graceful lines that allow them to sit confidently in almost any interior. The line of March's tambour roll-top flows down from the carcase through the legs. There is also a great deal of flowing line in Marks' writing table, which was featured of the gallery's show announcement. Notice the similarity of the line in the legs of these two pieces, though the makers worked a continent apart. In Marks' table, however, the lines become the personality, set aggressively at 45 degrees into the apron. The carved pull is a signature of his teacher, James Krenov. Proving again the strengths of diverse training centers, Marks came from the College of the Redwoods, and March from RIT.
Craig Marks - Rosewood, Kingwood and Ebony Writing Table

Robert March - Padauk Roll-Top Desk

David Ebner - Cherry Stand-Up Desk

Ben Mack - Maple Desk

Alan Marks - Oak and Leather Easy Chair

John Dodd - Cherry Desk
  Stand-up or reference desks are not unique to studio furniture, but David Ebner's piece gave him a perfect format for showing off his poured leg design. The piece has a delicate but sculptural presence.
John Dodd's desk in cherry focuses on pure line and is completely without ornamentation. Its design does not stem from any furniture tradition per se but is more in line with what one would expect from a contemporary architect. The curve on the front of the top contains pencil drawers and replies to the outward flare of the pedestal sides. It has a clean and inviting look.
Images in Wood: Marquetry by Silas Kopf - 1982

Marquetry: Images in Wood
Silas Kopf
Also new work from
John Dunnigan, David Ellsworth, Richard Scott Newman, James Schriber, Del Stubbs.

NOTES: Silas Kopf was established by 1982 as an expert in creative marquetry. He had apprenticed with Wendell Castle in the mid-70s, and continued occasionally to collaborate with him. Kopf employed craftsmen to build his pieces, which he would then use as a canvas for marquetry designs. In 1989, he studied with Pierre Ramond at the Ecole Boulle in Paris, further perfecting his mastery of marquetry.
Silas Kopf - Cherry Blanket Chest with Marquetryof Padauk, Bubinga, Rosewood,
Jacaranda and Holly
Commissions & Installations - 1982


The gallery's first commission came from a downtown Manhattan maritime law firm. Richard Cohen built a partners' desk in walnut, and George Gordon made a series of walnut arbitration tables as pictured.
Commissions were a vital part of the gallery's activity in its first decade, constituting nearly half of its business. A short sampling of commissions during the year follows the end of each year's section.

Early on, the partners had been advised that dealing with the trade in commission situations would be essential to the gallery's success. However, this did not prove to be the case because few architects or designers at the time made an effort to include studio furniture in their residential or corporate projects.


George Gordon - Set of Walnut Arbitration Tables for Manhattan Maritime Law Firm

Home Office: David Ebner Chair; Hank Gilpin Walnut and Cherry Desk;
Jim Fawcett Storage Cabinet in Pecan, Oak, Beech, and Tulipwood
    Two notable exceptions were the pioneering efforts of Patricia Conway, principal in the New York architectural design firm of Kohn, Pedersen, Fox and Conway, and David Schwarz, a Washington, DC, architect who worked with studio furniture makers on corporate as well as residential projects. Later, the partners surmised that there may have been a perception in the trade that studio furniture cost more, took longer, and did not offer customary trade discounts. From the furniture maker's side, working with an architect or designer in a commission situation often left the maker out of the design process. Makers ended up executing designs of others rather than their own. Some makers made a practical adjustment and built to specification as part of their production routine. Beyond that, the results of the commission process can be far from a surefire thing. It is fair to say that some furniture makers and clients ought not be placed together in a commission situation.
  Summing Up: The First Year's Lessons

In the gallery's experience, clients generally make their own decisions and do not require professional vetting. They act as their own arbiters of taste, and for this a quotient of confidence is necessary. This fact does tend to limit the circle of collectors of studio furniture because it takes some strength to make such decisions. Whether a sales or commission situation, the client has to be convinced that the piece will work for them in an evironment that they know better than anyone else -- their own home. Jack Lenor Larsen has said you're not a collector unless you pay storage. But collectors of studio furniture are not generally of this nature. Their objective is to envision an acquisition that they will live with and use. You could argue that the challenge in placing studio furniture is more difficult than that of painting, not only because of the space furniture requires, but also because our tolerance of what is acceptable on someone's wall is greater than what we will accept to sit upon or eat from. The partners' mission was to show people that studio furniture was a real residential option, one that could heighten the quality of their lives in their most intimate surrounding. They didn't rely on pedestals to display work in the gallery. Rather, they assembled work in groupings that made synergistic sense, arranging pieces in familiar ways that suggested how they might look in a home. The natural eclecticism of studio furniture lent itself to some imaginative pairings. Group shows were the gallery's common exhibition format at the time, because the format served their mission very well. Many collections of studio furniture that began in the 1980s remain unequaled today.

In Patricia Conway's book, Art for Everyday: The New Craft Movement, (New York. Clarkson Potter, 1990), she guides readers through the homes and offices of collectors and demonstrates how studio furniture works in living rooms, bedrooms, boardrooms, lobbies, offices, patios, and gardens. "These craft artists," Conway wrote, "are concerned not primarily with the expression of material and natural form as were their predecessors, these craft artists are direct descendants of the Arts and Crafts movement that shaped the early part of the 20th century. Their ethos is the unifying moral and aesthetic force of craft and the reconnection of that force with the everyday."

The partners, who assisted Patricia Conway by introducing her to many of the collectors featured in her book, felt that Art for Everyday validated their approach.
    1 9 8 3
Spring 1983  

Spring 1983
Lecture by
James Krenov at Pritam & Eames

NOTES: The spring of 1983 marked the arrival of two cabinets by James Krenov, pieces that remain among his strongest work today. More than two dozen Krenov cabinets would be exhibited at the gallery during the ensuing years. Krenov also chose this occasion to visit Pritam & Eames for the first time, where he delivered a lecture to a full house. The first of his two cabinets is a maple case seated on a red oak stand. The concave flared panels of the two front doors, although not the first time Krenov used this feature, set this cabinet apart. The outward flare of the panel actually allows it to stand free of its frame at the outside of the door. The two small interior drawers are notable for the delicate pulls fashioned by carving into the partridge wood of the drawer front itself.

The second cabinet was built as a single integrated structure. Its frame is of mahogany and the panels are yaca-wood. By integrating the cabinet and the supporting frame, the legs could be joined at a 45-degree angle. This is a very satisfying feature that appears in a number of Krenov cabinets and later turns up in the work of Bill Walker (a student of Krenov's) and Hank Gilpin (a RISD graduate who did not study with Krenov). This cabinet's façade is so simple that the two pulls set into the doors act as a riveting focal point and express a powerful animus spirit. The animism is further enhanced by the extension of the stiles at the top of the cabinet. This carved extension of just a few inches has the symbolic quality of ears or horns. The pulls and the stile extensions provide a decorative emphasis that, overall, is compelling. Both Krenov cabinets contain wooden shelves as well as small drawers. The shelves carry a Krenov trademark that reflects his sensitivity to line: on the underside of the front edge there is a hand-planed bevel that delivers a slight visual lift. The effect is subtle, but real.

James Krenov - Maple and Red Oak Cabinet

James Krenov - Mahogany and Yaca-wood Cabinet
The Fine Art of Craftsmanship: Design and Process - 1983

The Fine Art of Craftsmanship - Design and Process
Wendell Castle, Michael Coffey, John Dodd, John Dunnigan, David Ebner, Glenn Gordon, Tom Hucker, Michael Hurwitz, Hunter Kariher, William Keyser, James Krenov, Charles Mark, Richard Scott Newman, Russell Riscoe, James Schriber.

NOTES: This exhibit included drawings, photos of the production process for pieces in the exhibit, as well as an installation of the bending jigs and tools that David Ebner used to build his wishbone rocker. In an example of the drawing process, Michael Hurwitz showed a 20-foot piece of brown kraft paper with drawings of the evolution of a furniture idea that began as a table but wound up as a child's chair. The ornamental style of the chair's apron and crest rail evolved from Hurwitz's observations of historic buildings and decorative cornices. Cynthia Porter wove the fabric of the seat.
John Dunnigan was represented by another version of his Versailles Table. This time he utilized black lacquer for the base instead of wenge, which emphasized the top as a showcase for exotic wood. Note in the detail picture that the role of the apron is more decorative than functional, and that the stretcher system for the legs is a bent laminate structure. Also, the drapery-like aprons are turned and support the tabletop while the positions for the legs are cut out -- an unusual approach to table construction.

In 1964, Wendell Castle designed his music stand and determined it would be an edition. The one in this show was an unusual combination of purpleheart and maple. The viewer can't help but notice the similarity of the stand and a musical note. Although elements of the form would change in future editions, the spirit of its calligraphic gesture remained constant and made the music stand a classic in Castle's career.

Tage Frid's three-legged stools
are animated work from Frid, you could say even anthropomorphic in that the group projects an assembly of personalities. You can also almost see these stools as Mattia's inspiration for his valet series.

David Ebner's Renwick Stool is an earlier design that brought him recognition from its acceptance by the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

The low table by Bill Keyser exhibits his creative use of steam bending, sculptural awareness, and technical intelligence in creating mystery for the eye.
The arching legs appear to pierce the solid top.

Glenn Gordon's sturdy bench in lacewood is a compact composition of line and material. Although he would turn to writing in the future for creative outlet, this early small bench remains a strong piece.

Bruce Beeken's cedar Adirondack Chair was the earliest piece shown at the gallery to have been designed to be made in limited groups and marketed at a reasonable price. It took a discerning eye, nonetheless, to appreciate the differences between this chair and what was readily available in catalogues. The gallery itself would begin its effort to market an edition series in 1995; and by 2001, Beeken himself would be ready to launch his own line of Vermont furniture.

John Dunnigan - Pupleheart and Lacquer Table
Wendell Castle - Purpleheart and Maple
Music Stand
Michael Hurwitz - Cherry and Lacquer
Coffee Table

Michael Hurwitz - Child's Chair
Tage Frid - Walnut Stools
William Keyser - Pecan Low Table

David Ebner - Purpleheart Renwick Stool
Glen Gordon - Ronchamps Bench

Bruce Beeken - Cedar Adirondack Chair
James Schriber - Padauk and Ebony
Game Table

James Schriber - Ebonized Maple Table

James Schriber - Ash Bed

  Included in this show were three pieces by James Schriber. The stylistic differences between the black table and the queen-size ash bed are such that one would not assume that the same person designed both pieces. This versatility and design fluency has distinguished Schriber's work throughout his career, and also makes him among the most commissionable of furniture makers. Schriber played an exceptional role in studio furniture as he gave the wider public more faith in the field. The black table, has a slick contemporary elegance, while the ash bed harks back to Carl Malmsten and Schriber's time with Osgood at PIA. "Country" is the word that comes to mind to describe the bed, and "urban" the table.
Post-Modern Embellishment - 1983

Post-Modern Embellishment - 1983
Dale Broholm, John Dunnigan, Alphonse Mattia, Judy Kensley McKie, Richard Scott Newman, James Schriber.

NOTES: This show focused on the decorated surface, and the use of paint, epoxy resin, gold, ebony, and carving. Patricia Conway observed that Post-Modernism was regarded as a reaction against the austerity of Modern design, and its exclusion of ornament. Since the early 1970s, a number of furniture makers, architects, and designers renewed their interest in pattern and decoration and the application of pure ornament to furniture, rooms, and buildings. "The universal appeal of ornament is precisely its 'uselessness'," Conway writes in Ornamentalism: The New Decorativeness in Architecture and Design, co-authored with Robert Jensen (Clarkson Potter Inc., 1982). "Because ornament does not hold things up or make things work, it is essentially free: free to move the eye, to intrigue the mind, to rest the soul; free
simply to delight."

The epoxy resin in John Dunnigan's Vanity Suite (shown on the announcement) and the ebony detailing in Richard Scott Newman's demilunes exemplify the theme of this show. Newman exhibited a pair of demilunes, one in cherry and ebony, the other in maple and ebony. These original demilunes presaged the slightly larger versions of the table that would become his signature piece over the next ten years. Later, a commission allowed Newman to design a ten-foot wide version of the table (pictured under Commissions, 1989).

In studio furniture at this point, two pieces came to symbolize a movement in the field that took decorative detailing into the realm of art ideologies. One such piece was Garry Knox Bennett's padauk cabinet with a 16-penny nail pounded into one beautifully crafted door. This act on Bennett's part certainly would have been in keeping with the Dada movement. Many assumed that Wendy Maruyama's Scribble Desk that appeared in this exhibition derived from the same spirit. But, according to Maruyama, this is not true. Her intention was to embellish the top surface of the desk with a calligraphic gesture rendered in as free a manner as possible. She used a crayon, then lacquered the surface. Both Bennett and Maruyama's pieces appeared on the back cover of Fine Woodworking in 1980, to the consternation of some who thought they were desecrating the wood.

Ed Zucca's Egyptian Dynasty Cabinet is an apt example of ornamentation. The nature of its façade is entirely determined by two bold, but strange, tower-like bas-relief figures on the front. This piece was made before his space furniture series. The Egyptian-style work, although distinctive and appealing, was not a style to which he would return.
+ rsn table + reverse slide
John Dunnigan - Purpleheart and Marble Table

Richard Newman - Maple and Ebony, First Demilune
Wendy Maruyama - Scribble Desk

Ed Zucca - Egyptian Dynasty Cabinet

Alphonse Mattia - "Fragile" Mirror

Alphonse Mattia - "Unbreakable" Mirror

Judy Kensley McKie - Carved Birch Table

Dale Broholm - Lacewood, Pearlized-Paint Upholstered Chair
Dale Broholm - Cabinet
  Both Fragile and Unbreakable are part of a signature series of mirrors by Alphonse Mattia that would represent him well in the gallery world until the appearance of his valet series in 1984.

Remarkable work from Judy McKie surfaced again in this show. Her table exhibits the first use of the lizard-like form, to which she would return in the future. The creature is carved into the leg material and its upward motion takes the eye in a continuous sweep up to the braided pattern of the apron. This table is a precursor to her Grinning Beast Table that she made for a 1986 P&E show.
The Box - 1983

Del Stubbs - Cocobolo Lidded Containers
Jeff Kellar - Rosewood Box-on-Stand
Signature Pieces: The Desk for Home & Office - 1983

Signature Pieces: The Desk for Home & Office
Wendell Castle, Michael Coffey, John Dodd, John Dunnigan, David Ebner, Hank Gilpin, George Gordon, David Hannah, Creighton Hoke, Silas Kopf, Peter Korn, Alan Lorn, Benjamin Mack, Robert March, Wendy Maruyama, Jere Osgood, David Powell, Wendy Stayman, John Tierney, Stewart Wurtz, Robert Whitley.

NOTES: Listed in this show are desks by Wendell Castle, Jere Osgood, and David Powell. The Castle desk uses his by-now familiar pinwheel leg-to-apron design with maple parquetry running up the legs and along the apron top to frame a green leather writing surface. One of Castle's simplest decorative treatments, and the desk is strong because of it.

David Powell, like Castle, was responsible at that time for a studio school, Leeds Design Workshop in Easthampton, MA. Powell had been trained by Edward Barnsley of the English studio furniture movement, but his desk owes more to the experimental forms of the 1960s than to Arts and Crafts influence. The carcase of Powell's desk is egg-shaped in profile and upholstered in leather. The Barnsley-Powell connection was an important trans-Atlantic association; another was that of the British furniture maker John Makepeace and Wendell Castle.

Jere Osgood made only a few pieces in the early 1980s. He has acknowledged that it was very difficult to do his own work while running the PIA program, especially during the first years of its existence. It would take until 1985 before he was able to create enough work for a two-person show with his former student, Tom Hucker. In this show, the surface of Osgood's simple walnut and ash writing table is supported by a curved leg structure built using his tapered-laminate technique. The asymmetrical design of the forward and rear legs allows the top to cantilever from a central pedestal. Freed from the traditional "leg at the corners" design, the top takes on an aerodynamic quality. Basic to Osgood's thinking is the idea that forms expressing a natural flow of energy will never simply be linear.

Of note is a fall-front desk by Wendy Stayman, whose name was appearing on a gallery listing for the first time. Trained at Wendell Castle's studio school, her fall-front desk in pearwood and maple
exhibits both the architectural crispness associated with her work as well as her knowledgeable eye for decorative detail. The pear and maple combination is a visual feast.
Wendy Stayman - Pearwood, Holly, Maple and Leather Fall-front Desk

Wendell Castle - Walnut, Curly Maple and Leather Writing Desk and Chair

David Powell - Personal Desk

Jere Osgood - Walnut and Ash Desk

John Dunnigan - Maple, 24K Gold over Bronze Writing Table
Commissions - 1983    
Peter Resnick - Art Nouveau Silver Chest

Ed Zucca - Space Suite

George Gordon - Walnut Dining Table
Jonathan Wright -One of several small Bubinga conference tables for a Philadelphia law firm

The Discreet Object of Desire - 1983 - 1984

The Discreet Object of Desire
Wendell Castle, John Dodd, John Dunnigan, David Ellsworth, Hank Gilpin, George Gordon, Reg Herndon, Michelle Holzapfel, Thomas Hucker, Michael Hurwitz, Silas Kopf, Ben Mack, Charles Mark, Richard Scott Newman, Zivko Radenkov, Del Stubbs.

The appearance of work by Reg Herndon and Zivko Radenkov signified the onset of influence that graduates from Krenov's program at The College of the Redwoods would have on P&E exhibitions.

The impact of Zivko Radenkov's spare and reverential Winter Cabinet is even more pronounced when set against the strong decorative styles that were prevalent on the east coast at the time. Here, it is the reserve of the decorative element that makes its mark. The slender bare branches tell us the season and the remaining leaf completes the composition. Radenkov says of this cabinet that he "wanted a wintry sort of feeling with still a few leaves hanging around before a breeze carries them to the cold ground. In the lower corner of the right panel, there is a falling leaf being carried off by a small swirl of wind. I used the western curly maple for background to convey the sense of a cold winter day. So, all in all, the
cabinet is a fantasy of looking out some window and you see what you see." Radenkov would continue into the 1990s to produce cabinets decorated with marquetry patterns of floral motifs.

This exhibit also marked the arrival of work by Michelle Holzapfel. She would continue to exhibit her turned and carved pieces at P&E until the early 1990s.

Zivko Radenkov - Winter Cabinet

Reg Herndon - Maple Display Cabinet

Michelle Holzapfel - Cherry Burl Beet
Michelle Holzapfel - Turned and Carved Pumpkin

Silas Kopf - Mahogany and Narra Coffee Table
  1 9 8 4
The Cabinetmakers - 1984

  The Cabinetmakers
Greg Bloomfield, Richard Cohen, John Dodd, John Dunnigan, David Ebner, Penny Gebhard, Hank Gilpin, George Gordon, Bill Keyser, Silas Kopf, Peter Korn, James Krenov, Tom Loeser, Ben Mack, Charles Mark, Alan Marks, Wendy Maruyama, Judy Kensley McKie, Richard Newman, Ronald Puckett, Stewart Wurtz.

NOTES: The Krenov cabinet pictured on the announcement is only 57 inches high and 26 inches wide. At the time, it marked a still-rare appearance of his work in the United States. This cabinet, in Japanese white oak, is related to one that he made in Sweden 15 years earlier. The 1984 piece is composed of a small showcase attached to a larger base cabinet, which is raised by a plinth. Krenov previously had used a functional base cabinet to support a hip-high section, but he would not return to a closed base form for 10 years. Perhaps he felt that he said it perfectly with this cabinet. Everyone, especially his students at the time, remembers this piece. The small black/white image on the show announcement sold the cabinet over the phone to someone who knew nothing about Krenov or studio furniture. It remains one of his purest pieces and one, regrettably, that he does not repeat.

The Cabinetmakers show included the Fish Cabinet by Judy McKie, her largest case piece to date. The cabinet form, a perfect horizontal rectangle, provided her with an ample canvas for starkly angular fish imagery, which are repeated across the front in a geometric pattern. The table
base lifts the case much like an aquarium. McKie would return periodically to the large case piece as a means to explore pattern and two-dimensional designs. She returns to large surface-pattern exploration in her 1995 Pattern Table, this time on a horizontal surface.

Gilpin's minimalist fumed white oak cabinet has a certain monumentality for its size -- chest height. The illusion is enhanced by its unusual plinth base. The minimalist sense of the piece is reinforced by its single front door. The cabinet's warm tone was achieved by fuming the oak with ammonia, a 19th-century French technique.

David Ebner's Lingerie Chest marks the first appearance of this piece at the gallery, but not the last. It follows the French formula of seven drawers, one for each day of the week. Its anthropomorphic form a robed figure, giving this piece its signature.

James Krenov - Japanese Oak and Glass Cabinet

Judy Kensley McKie - Fish Cabinet

Hank Gilpin- Fumed Oak Cabinet
David Ebner - Mahogany Lingerie Chest

Greg Bloomfield -
Bubinga, Ebony, Glass and Silver
Showcase Cabinet

George Gordon - Corner Cabinet

Peter Korn - Cherry Breakfront

Silas Kopf - Walnut and Marquetry Breakfront

The Boston Influence - 1984


The Boston Influence
Dale Broholm, Thomas Hucker, Michael Hurwitz, Tom Loeser, Judy Kensley McKie, Charles Mark, Alphonse Mattia, Wendy Maruyama, Jere Osgood, Michael Pierschalla, Mitch Ryerson, Rosanne Somerson, Jonathan Wright, Stewart Wurtz.

If talent is not contagious, there are times when it seems to create its own confluence. The Program in Artisanry at Boston University, under the leadership of Jere Osgood and Dan Jackson, and later, Alphonse Mattia, was an unusually productive source of talented furniture makers during its decade of existence from 1976 to 1986.

Those listed in the show are mostly still active in the Boston area. The valet series by Alphonse Mattia perfectly represents the vitality and exuberance that was collectively present at the time. The valets have charm, wit and, although mainly sculptural, were still sufficiently functional so as not to challenge the studio furniture code. The notion of completely non-functional work had yet to be asserted in the furniture field.

Also representing the more gestural aspect of the PIA influence is a pair of triangular side tables by Dale Broholm. Their blatantly red-dyed veneer tops say unequivocally: "Do you dare?"

Tom Hucker's three-seater beefwood bench reflects Ogood's thinking on structure. This furniture form is the forerunner of many pieces to come from Hucker -- some as benches, others as low tables. The footing would evolve into both bronze and stone, and the top would evolve to solid wood surfaces.

Tom Loeser's white oak chair and Michael Hurwitz's tall cherry table also show Osgood's influence. Although Loeser's work would follow more in the vein of his painted Mouse Hole Table, this chair represents the functional design discipline of PIA under Osgood. Its parts are light in mass, but the structure is well engineered, depending upon perfect joints to bear the special stress of seating. Hurwitz's tall cherry table is rigid in spite of its impossibly thin legs, due again to a well-conceived stretcher system and tight joints. His second piece, a brandy vault, shows another side of Hurwitz: his interest in color and surface texture. It also reveals his penchant for small, intimate case pieces that have more to do with a feel for enclosed space than with anything structural. In fact, the Victorian corner braces are purely referential. Note the decorative tie-in to his earlier Child's Chair already pictured. Both pieces use color, and have similar decorative detailing and playful scale. Hurwitz says he was mostly interested in making things that could be shipped by UPS during this period.

Judy McKie's Jungle Chairs in butternut focus on a primitive dugout shape, embellished with the carved figure of a creature. These chairs are an outgrowth of a commission for the puppeteer Jim Henson.

Rosanne Somerson's piece, a long rectangular mirror, reflected the re-emergence of paint as decoration. The vertical sides of the frame are capped by rounded volumes which themselves are painted with dense pattern. The top of the frame is crowned with a small medallion covered in handmade paper.

The appearance of Jere Osgood’s padauk and ebony Chest of Drawers in this show was a precursor to a regular contribution of major pieces from this outstanding maker. Although Osgood had developed his thinking about chests in the 1970s, the investment of time in a piece such as this five drawer chest makes their appearance rare amongst Osgood’s speculative pieces. The next chest of drawers, his three drawer low chest, would not show at the gallery until ’95. And his tall or lingerie chest would not appear until 2003.

Visually, the striking feature of these chests is their curved torso-like shaping. The width of the chest is narrower at the bottom with deeper drawers. The drawers get shallower as they widen towards the top. The curve of the front also becomes more accentuated as the piece progresses upward. This chest literally swells as in the tension of skin over muscle or the viscosity of a drop. This is accomplished by curving both horizontally and vertically. Although you see compound curving in other Osgood pieces, it is most effective in these chests. To accomplish this visual simplicity, the drawer fronts are all different bent laminate constructions. The sides of the chest which also swell vertically are coopered from shaped solid staves. The stems of the pulls are through tenons and pinned with wedges on the inside. The solid top is dovetailed into the sides. For a look at an earlier Osgood chest, see the one included on page 58 in the catalogue for the 2003 exhibit at the Boston MFA, The Maker’s Hand – American Studio Furniture, 1940-1990.

Although Judy Kensley McKie and Rosanne Somerson attended RISD and not PIA, their inclusion in this show reflects their influence and proximity to the Boston makers. PIA graduates not represented in this show but whose work also is associated with P&E include Bruce Beeken, Tim Philbrick, and James Schriber.

Alphonse Mattia - Valets
Side Tables - Dale Broholm
Wendy Maruyama - Drawers with
Pointy Legs

Thomas Hucker - Beefwood and Linen Bench

Tom Loeser - Oak Side Chair
Tom Loeser - Painted Maple
"Mouse Hole" Table

Michael Hurwitz - Tall Cherry Table
Mitch Ryerson - Beefwood, Ebony, Walnut, Maple "People" Chair

Michael Hurwitz - Brandy Vault
Michael Pierschalla - English Brown Oak, Black Lacquer, Leather Writing Desk

Judy Kensley McKie - Butternut Jungle Chairs with
Oak Table commissioned from John Dunnigan

Rosanne Somerson - Painted Mirror
Jere Osgood - Andaman Paduak
Chest of Drawers

Stewart Wurtz - Swiss Pearwood and Purpleheart Writing Table and Chair

Two Furniture Makers: The Re-Emergence of a Tradition - 1984 Two Furniture Makers: The Re-Emergence of a Tradition
John Dunnigan, Richard Scott Newman.

This was the second exhibit that featured individual makers. Here the notion that a furniture maker can create a signature body of work as original as any painter takes on weight. Richard Newman was trained at RIT and had worked for Wendell Castle; John Dunnigan, trained at RISD, studied with the legendary Tage Frid. As part of the exhibit, both lectured at the Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY and at PRITAM & EAMES.

John Dunnigan's high-style vanity is sumptuous in its use of material and color. The curly maple top was set up by a base painted in a red as definite as that used in Chinese furniture. The neoclassical leg refers to Egyptian bundled papyrus, a metaphor that Dunnigan would use again.

The design of Richard Newman's umbrella stand also used the bound bundle metaphor. This time the structure is actually made by joining of curved staves. These elements were not staves in the usual sense, they were complex laminations that allow the compounding of the curve. The elements that joined the staves were surfaced in ebony, adding a heightened sense of depth, structure, and material richness. Although the form itself was attractive and unusual, on close inspection it was the beaded bronze banding that made you catch your breath. The braided beads were individually cast and gold plated, and set into an ebony bracelet. A perfectly fitted, interior-blackened copper canister fulfilled the piece's functional promise.

John Dunnigan - Ebonized Mahogany
Boudoir Chair
Richard Newman - Umbrella Stand
John Dunnigan - Maple, Red Lacquer
Vanity Suite
An Exhibition of Desks and Chairs - 1984

An Exhibition of Desks and Chairs
Dale Broholm, Wendell Castle, Michael Coffey, John Dodd, John Dunnigan, David Ebner, Hank Gilpin, Creighton Hoke, Jeff Kellar, Silas Kopf, West Low, Ben Mack, Robert March, Judy Kensley McKie, Richard Scott Newman, Ron Puckett, John Tierney, William Walker, Robert Whitley, Stewart Wurtz, Dennis Young.

NOTES: The show announcement is a sketch of Stewart Wurtz's three-legged desk that he completed after getting his certificate of mastery from PIA. In contrast to much of the curvature coming out of PIA at the time, this piece is strikingly linear and also architectural in its manipulation of perspective and geometric form. What is not visible in the photograph is the blue epoxy detailing on the top.

The Wendell Castle desk in this exhibit is part of his "fine furniture" series in which rich veneers and exacting details produced a consummate update of Ruhlmann's own update of 18th-century French ébénisterie.

Richard Newman was also at work in Rochester perfecting his neo-classical forms. Because of the publicity attending Castle, Newman's work was somewhat overshadowed. But the furniture coming out of both of these Rochester-area shops reached extraordinary levels of craftsmanship. In Newman's chair, the transition from the fluted rear leg to the fluted back stile is accomplished through seat corner details turned on more than one axis. The chairs' beautiful starburst ormolu shows Newman at the height of his jewelry-like decorative skills. The ormolu was first sculpted in wax from which the casting molds were made. The fluting on the gold plated feet, accomplished by cutting each flute on a Bridgeport mill, was a continuation of the tapered fluting of the legs.

Bob March settled in the Worchester, MA, area after graduating from RIT, where the Worchester Craft Center would
take on a strong regional influence. The mellow light brown-gold color of his pecan and hickory desk, as well as its airy structural design, was a pleasant addition to this exhibition.

John Dunnigan's bird's-eye maple writing table, with its single unobtrusive drawer, once again demonstrates his ability to incorporate neoclassical references. In this piece he joined Newman by incorporating gold plating as an ornamental detail. You can see Dunnigan's use of exaggeration in the exploding tops of the faceted legs, and the billowing medallion-like maple details. The oval top itself seems to swell.

This was the first time that the work of William Walker appeared in the gallery. Walker, trained by Krenov at the College of the Redwoods, overlapped there for a year with Zivko Radenkov, but did not get to know Brian Newell, another Krenov protégé, until they would meet at P&E in the mid-1990s. Instead of pursuing a teaching role at the College of the Redwoods, Walker went north to Seattle, feeling he needed some distance to develop his personal furniture style. And his work did evolve in a strongly independent manner. The European cherry writing table and two chairs by Walker combine informality with simple elegant lines. The style of the suite is quietly original. The fruitwood is inviting and the thinking behind the details is rewarding: the koa inlay picks up the color of the chairs' hand-woven silk by Marjorie Lyons; the hand-planed relief in the curved and tapered legs is a good response to the corner details of the table top; the relieved drawer fronts allow for pulls carved from the solid material of the drawer fronts; the shape of the top itself subtly follows the pattern flow of the cherry and is, therefore, asymmetrical on close inspection.

If Castle and Newman showed the strength of work coming from the Rochester area, and Dunnigan and Gilpin expressed the vitality around Providence, RI, then Creighton Hoke and Bill Walker's work ably represented northern California. Hoke's fall-front desk exhibits his mentor's predilection to challenge us with unusual combinations of wood. The sensitively shaped hand-carved pulls, and the use of some asymmetry in
the interior layout, signify Krenov's influence.

Stewart Wurtz - Pearwood, Ebony and Lacquer Desk


Wendell Castle - Lady's Writing Desk with Silver Inlay

Richard Newman - Carving fluted feet for Pearwood Chairs on a Bridgeport mill
Richard Scott Newman - Pearwood Chairs
Robert March - Hickory Desk

William Walker - European Cherry Writing Desk and Two Chairs
Creighton Hoke - Pearwood Fall-Front Desk

Ben Mack - Maple Desk and Chair

David Ebner - English Brown Oak Desk Suite

John Tierney - Maple and Lacquer Chair
West Lowe - Pudding Mahogany
Leisure Desk
Commissions - 1984

Michael Coffey Walnut Pedestal Table and Charles Marks Chairs

Hank Gilpin - Cherry Trestle Table, Fumed Oak Cabinet; Hans Wegner - Chairs

James Krenov & New Works - 1984-85

The Cabinet Art of James Krenov & New Works
John Dunnigan, David Ebner, Lawrence Hunter, Hank Gilpin, Michelle Holzapfel, William Keyser, Bob March, Charles Mark, Tim Philbrick, Ron Puckett, James Schriber, Rosanne Somerson, William Walker.

NOTES: James Krenov's cabinets in European cherry and chestnut are among a number of strong pieces that arrived for this show. Turner Michelle Holzapfel's carving skills found ample challenge in her MFK Fisher Bowl in ash burl, Ram's Horn Vase in yellow birch burl, and Breakfast in Bed, made of assorted woods.

The feeling of Bill Walker's chest of drawers in oak is very much in keeping with his earlier European cherry desk and two chairs. It is approachable and rich in rewarding detail upon close inspection: the hand-forged pulls, the inlay, and the surprising inclusion of two side compartments enclosed by doors.

Hank Gilpin's two walnut and bird's-eye maple chairs draw on Arts & Crafts as well as Chinese furniture references. But the design is resolved in a fresh and contemporary take on a dining chair with arms that easily accommodate a table apron. The chair focuses on its considerable joinery for a sense of style, rather than on challenging upholstery or decorative detail. The ample, well-designed back splat makes the chair most suitable for comfortable evenings around the table.

Bob March's small rosewood dining table, which evolved from his earlier harvest table design, is a comfortable companion to Gilpin's chairs, and also draws from the same historical sources.

From PIA's pool of talented graduates, both Tim Philbrick and James Schriber contributed high-style work. This was the first of Philbrick's chaises longue, derived from classical couches. The taut arching of the lower apron and the scrolling of the back and side give this piece, and those that evolve from it, an elegant tension.

Schriber's purpleheart table with its saber legs is also neo-classically influenced, although here the feel is distinctly more Deco, a period that would exert a powerful pull on a number of furniture makers in this decade. It is in his bed, however, with its startling contrast of bleached maple frame and crest rail in permanent wave, with pink ivory checks set in a warm, amber veneer, that you get a feel for Schriber's sense of fun and originality.

Larry Hunter's Clock V-2 is a kinetic sculpture that incidentally tells time. The movement of the pendulum, the locking and unlocking of the escapement, escapement wheel, fork assembly, and great wheel, contribute to the overall kinetics of the wall sculpture. The price of the clock included Hunter's travel from California to the collector's location in order to install the clock and instruct in its operation. Larry Hunter was one of Wendy Maruyama's teachers at San Diego State University in the 1970s.

Judy McKie's Dog Eat Dog table was a forerunner of many tables she would do over the years in which she would use paired animal forms.



James Krenov - European Cherry and Maple Cabinet, and European Chestnut Cabinet

Michelle Holzapfel -
Yellow Birch Burl Ram's Horn Vase
Michelle Holzapfel - Ash MFK Fisher Bowl
Michelle Holzapfel - Breakfast in Bed

William Walker - White Oak Chest

Hank Gilpin - Maple and Walnut Chairs
Bob March - Rosewood Dining Table

Hank Gilpin - Ash and Fumed Oak
Keyhole Chairs

Timothy Philbrick - Curly Maple and Silk Chaise Longue

James Schriber - Purpleheart Table
John Dunnigan - Exclamation Point Chair

James Schriber - bleached Maple, Pink Ivory and Satinwood Bed
Lawrence Hunter - Walnut and Birch Clock V-2
David Ebner - Red Oak Scallion Coat Rack
Judy McKie - Dog Eat Dog Coffee Table- Carved Limewood, Milk Paint and Glass
    1 9 8 5
Original Furniture for the Dining Room - 1985

Original Furniture for the Dining Room
Michael Coffey, David Ebner, West Lowe, Robert March, David Powell, Ron Puckett, Stephen Rieger, Greg Seiler, Wendy Stayman, Peter Superti, Joseph Tracy, Lee Trench, Jonathan Wright, Stewart Wurtz.

Included in this show was a dining table by David Powell, the originator of Leeds Design Workshop in Easthampton, MA. Powell's table is a clean, contemporary three-legged table to seat six with a granite lazy Susan at its center. The table's ebony feet anchor straight tapered legs that enter into the pillowed apron with a visible V joint. The tip of the V ends at an ebony band encircling the top. The result is a simple, clean, as well as exciting, table design. The six armchairs are reminiscent of the work of Finn Juhl in the 1940s, but their ebony feet and post terminals make them stylish company for the table.

Work by Bruce Volz, a graduate of Leeds, was exhibited the previous year and would be joined the following year by another well-known Leeds graduate, Kristina Madsen.

Wendy Stayman's maple and satinwood silver chest has a Shaker simplicity that sets off its jewelry-like drawer pulls, the exterior's sole decorative flourish. She would return to this scale of chest two years later in her first one-person exhibit at the gallery. Stayman was trained in conservation before she studied at the Wendell Castle studio school in upstate New York.

You could find the work of Ron Puckett at Dick Kagan's gallery in Philadelphia until it ceased operation in 1983. Puckett was in RISD's program in the 1970s. His tall China Cabinet is remarkable for its beaten copper panels. Arts & Crafts in feel, the padauk wood of the carcass is set off by ebony trim that graphically segments the front and nicely offsets the large scale.

Judy McKie's limewood chest continued her exploration of abstract patterns. Her abstract pattern work, whether carved, painted, or both, goes back as far in her furniture history as the more familiar animal, bird, and reptile imagery with which she is so identified. The strict rectilinear form of this chest, as well as its quiet ivory-like color, gives the piece a calm, accepting presence. It, in fact, ended up comfortably in a dining area that included a Gilpin trestle table surrounded by Hans Wegner chairs. (See Commissions at end of 1984.)However, when one regards the piece, the energy of the carved abstract pattern begins to vibrate. The strength of the pattern appears as one's eye is pulled into its labyrinthine structure and like a labyrinth, it is a journey without repeats. What at first glance serves as a pleasant unity treats one to an unexpected pattern in each plane of its façade.

The show also included a dining table in white oak by Bill Keyser. The piece is a study of intersecting planes; the top is solid and expansive and simple in form with its gently canted edges. The double pedestal base that flares at offset angles is what catches the eye.

Much more organic in feel are two side tables by David Ebner and Peter Superti. Ebner's maple and rosewood Stick Table was the first of his twisted stick pieces to appear at the gallery. Foraging in early spring and taking to heart Wharton Esherick's dictum to look in your own backyard, Ebner would hunt the right-of-way of the Long Island railroad tracks for vine-twisted maple saplings. Once he learned how to remove bark and vine material efficiently, he had a wonderful local bone-like material with which to work. Superti's sideboard is called a Tropical Rain Cabinet and he also used found organic material -- the pulls are made from bean pods. The fiber woven door fronts add primitive texture.

Joe Tracy's tea cart was notable for its dramatic graphic statement. The plexiglass wheels encircled in black rubber provided a seemingly airborne support to the gentle sweep of the top surface.




David Powell - Maple, Ebony and Granite Dining Table & Chairs

Wendy Stayman -
Satinwood and Maple Silver Chest
Ron Puckett - Paduak and Copper
China Cabinet

Judy Kensley McKie - Carved Limewood Abstract Chest

Bill Keyser - White Oak Dining Table

David Ebner - Rosewood and Maple Stick Table

Peter Superti - Wenge, Satinwood, Africa Bean Pods and Fiber Tropical Rain Cabinet

Joe Tracy - Maple and Plexiglass
Tea Cart

Robert March - Rosewood Harvest Table

Michael Coffey - Mozambique and Glass Dining Table

John Dunnigan - Dining Chair

Jonathan Wright - Maple and Pearwood Dining Table
Original Furniture for the Living Room - 1985

Original Furniture for the Living Room
Dale Broholm, Michael Coffey, Peter Dean, John Dodd, John Dunnigan, David Ebner, Hank Gilpin, Thomas Hucker, James Krenov, Silas Kopf, Ben Mack, Robert March, John Marcoux, Richard Scott Newman, Tim Philbrick, Ron Puckett, Stephen Rieger, James Sagui, James Schriber, Rosanne Somerson, Lee Trench, William Walker, Robert Whitley.

The participants in this show demonstrated the strength of four centers of studio furniture study in the mid-1980s: RIT, PIA, RISD, and the College of the Redwoods as represented by James Krenov himself. This exhibit reflected a group of makers in full stride.
The upholstered form is one species of studio furniture which brings the best work from some makers, and which others never touch. Upholstered chairs, settees, and sofas benefit most from a relationship with a talented upholsterer. This takes trust, patience, and serious out-of-pocket expense. Nevertheless, the successful pieces are rewarding for both maker and client since so little refined work is available commercially.

Early shows exhibited the upholstered work by John Dunnigan and Tim Philbrick, and both would continue to excel at this form. Upholstered work from James Schriber would appear in future shows. In this show, Stephen Reiger introduced his upholstered Easy Chair. It was remarkable for the degree to which he utilized the chair's exposed wood to give the upholstered form a crisp and stylish appearance. The chair is very comfortable.

David Ebner's settee and easy chair have the presence of smoothly sculpted volumes. Where Reiger's exposed wood makes you aware of the formal properties of his chairs, Ebner's work exposes less wood and uses it as embellishment. Its roundedness suggests ultra comfort, though both chair and settee are actually compact, space-conservative forms.

Also of note from Reiger was his oak floor lamp styled as a neo-classical column.
David Ebner - Lounge Chair

Spadone-Rieger - Upholstered Chair and Oak Lamp;
David Ebner - Upholstered Settee
Richard Newman - Maple and Ebony Demilune

Joe Tracy -
Teak, Silk, Granite
Rock Lamp
Judy McKie - Carved Limewood Bird Cabinet with Marble Top

Stephen Rieger -
White Oak
Column Lamp
John Dunnigan - Maple, Ebony and Leather Desk,
Handpainted Silk Chair

James Schriber - Padauk and Leather Game Table

Robert Whitley - Walnut Rocker

Bruce Volz - Ebonized Walnut and Holly
Side Table

Dale Broholm - Curly Birch, Ebony,
Leather-wrapped Legs Highboy
Silas Kopf - Maple Marquetry Wine Cabinet
James Sagui - East Indian Rosewood
Powder Cabinet
Subtractive Work - 1985   Subtractive Work
Jon Brooks, David Holzapfel, Howard Werner.

NOTES: This exhibit focused on work made by reducing a large chunk of wood to reveal form, rather than achieving form by joining smaller pieces of wood. At the time of this show, Wendell Castle, one of the pioneers of carved forms made from stacked solids, had abandoned this method of construction. He would return to the subtractive process in the 1990s with his Angel Chairs series exhibited at the Peter Joseph Gallery in New York. Both Jon Brooks and Howard Werner work with monolithic blocks of wood and continue to produce vital bodies of work that demonstrate this enduring dimension of studio furniture.

Howard Werner met Jon Brooks in the 1970s at RIT and was influenced by his approach of carving solid wood with the chain saw. Refined form and chain sawing would seem to be mutually exclusive concepts; however, sculptors had long been drawn to this technique for rapid removal of material.
In this show, Werner's work demonstrated a sculptural sophistication. His five-pointed star dining table shows how far he had stretched chain-saw technique in order to render a complex form. Other pieces in this show were only nominally furniture-related and his vessel or dish-forms essentially cross the line into non-functional work. From its beginning, the gallery was decidedly in the functional corner of the studio furniture movement, but the partners certainly recognized that a good piece of furniture might have some things in common with sculpture. Both Howard Werner and Jon Brooks move freely between pieces that may or may not function as furniture. In Werner's case, he acknowledges that he was heavily influenced by such sculptors as Isamu Noguchi and Constantin Brancusi, as well as by the primitive carving techniques of Africa and Oceania.

The underlying point here is that although Werner moves freely between functional and sculptural pieces, his work springs from the discipline of studio furniture, not from sculpture.
Howard Werner - Elm Sphere

Howard Werner - Standing Maple Dish

Howard Werner - Walnut Dish
Howard Werner - Curly Maple Star Dining Table

Jon Brooks - Walnut, Red Oak, Brass Palenque and Night Lighting
Jon Brooks - Tasmanian Blackwood and Myrtle Music Stand
David Holzapfel - Butternut Hollow Table Base

Like Werner, Jon Brooks' low table treads the line between sculpture and function. Early in his career, he focused on found organic form as a primary element in his work. Brooks credits his artist-in-residency at the University of Tasmania in 1983-84 as a turning point in his work because he moved from single carved timbers to constructed sticks and color. Work from Brooks will often include colored pencil, acrylic, and pastels on wood. In this show, his combination of branch forms and saw-tooth cut-outs created a witty, animated form for a music stand.
Furniture of Thomas Hucker & Jere Osgood - 1985

The Furniture of Jere Osgood & Thomas Hucker

This show attests to former student/teacher influences that are still discernible in technique and form. This early featured show introduced pieces by both Tom Hucker and Jere Osgood that will be considered classic in their life's body of work, notably Hucker's low table on bronze pedestals, his slatted and cantilevered low table, and Osgood's rosewood and ash desk with legs that spread like a strong root structure and an aerodynamic spread-winged carcase suspended from its trunk. Osgood's sweeping cantilevered pedestal desk with its open upper cabinet took center space in this exhibit. Made of Brazilian rosewood and ash, this desk assumes visual command. What remains singular it is the horizontal stretch of its open cabinet. Osgood basically takes his flying wing tabletop and its cantilevered pedestal base and builds the cabinet as a shell structure shaped by the rear curve of the writing surface. The shell itself curves upward with the line of the pedestal posts. But the plane of the shell acts as a visual multiplier of the energy of that rear curve. The user, facing the interior of the shell, can select from a balcony of shallow drawers that stretch the entire width.

Osgood's second shell desk for the show was the first of his dome-shaped shells: shells constructed from curved, wedge-shaped segments, tapering to a central axis at the top. These desks open from side-to-side, the doors revolving back around the stand. Here is a true interior space that the user can close entirely for privacy. As a result, the interior takes on a special character. Osgood sets up the interior space by his choice of pearwood and the suspended curved drawer and partition structure that is not built up from the table's surface. In this shell desk, as with later versions, Osgood's construction of the interior shelves and drawers have evolved to articulate miniature architectural spaces with their own architectural integrity. See, for example, his 2001 Shell Desk. The interior of this Dome Desk
reflects the architecture of the whole. As in the rosewood desk, the suspended drawer structure allows the writing surface to extend to the rear of the piece without interruption. What chair to use with a desk like the Brazilian rosewood Shell? Osgood offers a solution with his curly maple chair. Its signature wide crest rail, reminiscent of Carl Malmsten, gives the kind of horizontal sweep that is comfortable with this desk.

If there could be a piece as distinctive as the Brazilian rosewood desk but still hold its own, it would be Tom Hucker's slatted low table. Designed for a sofa or easy chair, it suggests a tatami-sized room and a community of rice bowls as Hucker's love of Japanese culture bubbles through. His focus was foremost to create a large table surface with transparency that avoids glass. The cantilever structure of the slatted table shows Hucker's emulation of his teacher, Osgood.

Somewhat overshadowed by the slatted table, Hucker's other low table springs from earlier bench forms: it is narrow, stretched long, and structurally evokes a palanquin. The ends in this case are cast bronze stands. From end view, they could be Brancusi torsos. Here, however, they relate strongly to the Shield Chairs included in this show. This low
table, a signature Hucker piece in the coming years, will be seen later with bronze stands and a verdigris patina, as well as in stone. The use of linen cord as a decorative element is a tactile contrast to the hard bronze.
Jere Osgood - Rosewood and Ash Desk

Jere Osgood - Bubinga and Wenge Dome Desk

Thomas Hucker - Walnut, Ash and Linen Slatted Table

Thomas Hucker - Beefwood and Bronze Low Table

Profile of Hucker
Low Table

Thomas Hucker - Lacewood and Partridgewood Sofa Table

Thomas Hucker - Lacquer and Wenge Side Board

Thomas Hucker - Lacquer and Wenge Shield Chairs
The Shield Chair redefines how a chair can be. It trades familiarity for conceptual challenge. Structurally it accomplishes the engineering required by any chair -- countering the racking forces created by being seated. It is architecturally interesting as well, especially in the way its shape defines an interior space.
Commissions - 1985

Richard Scott Newman - Cherry, Ebony and Vermeil Lady's Writing Table and Chair

Richard Scott Newman - Curly Maple, Ebony and Vermeil Bench

James Schriber - Padauk Bedroom Suite

James Schriber - Wenge Armoire of Bedroom Suite

Objects on a Smaller Scale - 1986

Objects on a Smaller Scale

NOTES: The year opened with some playful, surrealistic entries that included Hap Sakwa's turned and painted wood scenes reminiscent of Giorgio de Chirico's landscapes, and the trompe l'oeil carving of Michelle Hozapfel's Breakfast in Bed and the marquetry of Silas Kopf's mantel clock.

Hap Sakwa - "Before Dawn"
Hap Sakwa

Silas Kopf - Clock
Michelle Holzapfel - "Continental Breakfast"
    1 9 8 6
27 Race Lane Opening - 1986

Gallery Opening:
27 Race Lane

(The work in this section of PRITAM & EAMES featured functional pieces in glass, clay, wood, fiber, and metal, and represented another dimension of the gallery's focus on living with craft.)
Susan Andrews, Bennett Bean, Jonathan Graham Bonner, Chunghi Choo, Diana Crain, Robert Davis, Addie Draper & Bud Latven, Jamie Fine, Beth Forer, Glenn Gilmore, Susan Goldin, Sam Stang, David Levi, Dimitri Michaelides (IBEX), Peter Handler, Carrie Harper, Cedric Hartman, Nancy Jurs, Karen Karnes, Michael Lambert, Jack Lenor Larsen, Sung Lee, Daniel Levy, Dona Look, Kari Lonning, Daniel Mack, Steven Maslach, James Makins, Robin Mix, Joyce Nagata, Hiroshi Nakayama & Judy Glasser, Joyce Nagata, Thomas O'Donnell, Liam O'Neill, John Page & David Thorbeck, Joe Panzarella, Deborah Papathanasiou, Jim & Shirley Parmentier, Stephen Prettyman, Rais-Wittus, Derek Richards, Hap Sakwa, Joanne Schiavone, John C. Sollinger, Alan Stirt, Tom Stoenner & Mark Sonzogni, Lucy Tracy, Joe Tracy, Jesse Walden, Geoffrey Warner.

NOTES: In 1985, the Johnsons were encouraged by friends and supporters including Leif Hope and Jack Lenor Larsen, to open an additional section to the gallery that would showcase smaller functional work in the traditional craft mediums of glass, clay, metal, fiber, and wood. The designation "27" refers to the address of this section that opened in May, 1986. The partners had always taken seriously the motto of "beautiful objects for everyday use," so their goal in "27" was to maintain a focus on functional work at smaller scales. Also, the point had been made that as museums have gift shops, it would do well for P&E to have a section of their gallery devoted to smaller items, some of which could fall into a "gift" category. The numbers of makers represented in this group was markedly greater than the studio furniture makers. The juried American Craft Council (ACC) shows at Rhinebeck and Baltimore, and museum shows such as the 1987 hollow-ware exhibition curated by Rosanne Rabb at the Castle Gallery, College of New Rochelle, provided ample opportunity to meet artisans. These venues offered more concentrated sourcing than the partners had experienced in scouting out furniture makers. The selection of work for "'27" was guided by the belief that one can live with and use beautiful handmade objects on a daily basis. The partners looked for work that did not camouflage its construction and evidenced, in some way, the mark of the maker. They sought out artisans who were doing original and substantive work, and who were considered masters of their disciplines. The goal of "27" was to establish a showcase for objects that celebrated the honor of use.
Eleni Prieston, a jeweler who lived nearby and whose own high-karat gold granulated work was shown at the gallery, managed "27" for four years. With the partners, she helped bring about a showcase for contemporary functional work in different media that was well received by a mostly separate audience from that of studio furniture. The opening collection included established makers like ceramicists Karen Karnes and James Makins, metalsmiths Chungi Choo, Jonathan Bonner, and Janet Prip, and basket weaver Kari Lonning, as well as work by emerging craftsmen.

The work of Karen Karnes and James Makins was emblematic of everything the partners hoped to represent in the new gallery section. James Makin's porcelain Chromaline and white dinnerware, with its hint of celadon, carries the impression of his fingers. The grooves in the porcelain, a feature he chooses to emphasize rather than hide, are so distinctive that they have become his signature.
James Makins - "Chromaline" Porcelain

Pat Flynn - Pewter, Silver and Gold Beakers

Karen Karnes - Earthenware Casserole

Jonathan Bonner - Copper Candlesticks

Bennett Bean - Gold-Leafed Ceramic Bowl

Ibex - Glass Tumblers

Page & Thorbeck - Ceramic Tea Service

Chunghi Choo - Silver Napkin Rings

Michael & Maureen Banner - Silver Teapot

Kari Lonning - Dyed Rattan Basket

Joanne Schiavone - Paper Tabletop Screen

Joyce Nagata - Majolica Cookie Jar
Ron Bower - Ceramic and Iron Hibachi

Judith Glasser & Hiroshi Nakayama -
High-fire Stoneware Vase, Wood Ash Glaze

Tom Stoenner (Tundra) - Drinking Glasses

Rais - Steel Woodburning Stove
Perhaps the ultimate useful ceramic object is the ovenproof casserole by Karen Karnes. She is credited with resurrecting ovenproof stoneware, and these pieces carry her trademark twisted handle.

The selection of objects in "27" focused on work that expressed the imprint of the maker, whether manifest in the glaze on the collaborative efforts of Glasser-Nakayama stoneware; the rainbow swirls in Tom Stoenner's handblown glass tumblers, or the joyful, painterly style of Joyce Nagata's functional Majolica pottery. It wasn't long before the gallery represented other functional work that included wearables and gold-smithing.

The 19th-century laundry building in which the gallery was located did not have heat because the warmth of the old steam presses obviated the need. Fortunately, Jack Larsen introduced the Johnsons to Rais/Wittus, a company that handled the U.S. distribution of the handsome, virtually hand-built Danish stove. The Rais stove remains their principal source of heat and the gallery became a Long Island dealer for the stove line in the process.
Art at Home - 1986

Art at Home - 1986

P&E collaborated with the dealers Theo Portnoy (ceramics and glass) and Gayle Wilson (fiber) for this exhibition. They used a large store space in Amagansett on the East End, illustrating how fluid the notions of exhibition were at the time.
Art at Home - 1986

  Art at Home - 1986
Dale Broholm, Wendell Castle, Hank Gilpin, George Gordon, Thomas Hucker, Jeff Kellar, Garrett Klugherz, James Krenov, West Lowe, Judy Kensley McKie, Kristina Madsen, Richard Scott Newman, Jere Osgood, Hap Sakwa, Rosanne Somerson, Wendy Stayman, Lee Trench, Bruce Volz, Geoffrey Warner, Howard Werner, Stewart Wurtz.

NOTES: Concurrent to the show with dealers Portnoy/Goodman and Wilson, P&E mounted its own Art at Home exhibit. The announcement piece, a four-poster bed by Richard Newman, challenged early advice given to the gallery: clients will invest in the public, but not the private, areas of the home. The only other maker contributing beds for gallery exhibition at the time was James Schriber, once in early 1983, and again in 1984. It might seem that Newman took his neoclassical style to an unlikely subject. However, a bed composed with four posts was a natural for him because the posts are a perfect stand-in for his fluted and ebony-edged leg-work. Ormolu that would have adorned the apron of a table works beautifully on the square sections of the posts where the foot, headboard, and side rails join. Cresting the posts themselves are twisted acanthus finials. The head and footboard themselves become the tableaux for his beautiful re-sawn, hand-planed decorative veneers.

Judy McKie contributed a spectacular, but modestly sized, circular dining table. It is called the Grinning Beast table because of the four beast heads that adorn the top of the legs. Examining the carved apron and following down the post of the legs, one can make out wings and feet, small in relation to the size of the grinning beast's head. The carving is dramatic and strong rather than finely detailed. Rather than diminish the drama by introducing color, McKie bleaches the maple to a bone white. The top of the table with its rounded edge seems to float on the energy of its animated base.

Krenov was present in the show with the first of his walk-about cabinets. The walk-about cabinet has a central display area closed off by glass doors that could be reached from either front or back. This walk-about included his signature horn-like extension of the stiles and legs joined into the cabinet at a 45-degree angle.

Kristina Madsen's work appeared in the gallery for the first time. The inspiration for her vellum writing table and chair came in part from a 12th-century source. Its intriguing top center panel is covered in transparent vellum and contains a quote from a 12th-century abbess, someone whose life Madsen admires. Its eight slender legs provide an expansive, but stable, writing surface. The ensemble is an expression of restraint and delicacy that would seem to be in sympathy with the abbess's view of life.

Occasionally a piece makes the kind of impact that becomes an identity for the maker. This was the case with George Gordon's capacious liquor cabinet. Its ample door panels were the perfect canvas for exhibiting intensely figured walnut crotch veneer. The quiet style of the cabinet was a counterbalance to this strength. The curly amaranth interior gave the illusion of illumination. Gordon would go on to make this cabinet a number of times, which is exceptional for a piece so complex.

Overlapping with Kristina Madsen at the Leeds Design Workshop in the late 1970s, Bruce Volz remained active in the studio furniture movement through the 1980s. His American Flyer cabinet is one of his best-known pieces. At its core, it is a Lionel locomotive
memorabilia, and its spirited use of materials and puckish form give the American Flyer an arresting stand-alone presence. Similarly, his Grandmother Clock springs from memories: in this case, of his grandmother's spoon collection. Modern clock movements do not require a pendulum case, so this piece can more aptly be called a clock with a case piece. The different attitude expressed in the Grandfather Clock comes not only from the imposing cove molding at the top, but also in the more somber tonality of the blue analine-dyed face veneer and the dark wenge framework. Its body is similarly composed of drawers below a cabinet.

Rosanne Somerson contributed a reading couch to the show. This piece doesn't display her usual finely painted and textured detail but depends on a statement of form that is both simple and strong. There is an almost rustic appearance to the wood, which comes from bleaching the wenge. The four legs of the couch are the same, but on one end, they extend further above the frame to provide a stretcher support for the new moon backrest. This reading couch is one of her simplest and best designs and would evolve to other seating pieces over the years.
Richard Scott Newman - Cherry, Ebony, and Vermeil Bed

Judy Kensley McKie - Carved bleached Maple "Grinning Beast" Table

James Krenov - Pearwood Walkabout Cabinet
Kristina Madsen - Curly Maple, Ebony, Vellum Writing Table with Silk Upholstered Chair
George Gordon - Walnut, Curly Amaranth Liquor Cabinet

Bruce Volz - Pau Amarillo, Walnut, Glass, Silk, Ceramic Beads "American Flyer I"

Bruce Volz - Purpleheart, Pearwood, Holly, Glass, Paint
"Grandmother Clock"
Bruce Volz - Wenge, analine dye, Abalone "Grandfather Clock"
Bruce Volz - Jatoba, Macassar Ebony, East Indian Laurel, Cherry Library
Wendell Castle - Tulipwood, Leather
"Sub-Nine" Coffee Table

Wendell Castle - Australian Lacewood,
painted Poplar "Summer"
Wendy Stayman - Curly Maple, Ebony, Lacquer, Brass End Tables

John Dunnigan - Pylon Bench
Thomas Hucker - Aluminum
Cascade Light
Rosanne Somerson - Wenge Reading Couch
    One expects unusual work from Tom Hucker and his hanging light did not disappoint. It was called Cascade light and was based on the idea of a number of aluminum forms, hung one below the other, connected by descending wires. The light introduced from the top shines through apertures in these aluminum plates, creating a striking display.
The Furniture Art of John Dunnigan - 1986

The Furniture Art of John Dunnigan - 1986

That P&E featured work by John Dunnigan and Richard Newman early on is no surprise. From the beginning, the gallery partners recognized work by these two distinctive furniture makers as exemplars of the highest standards of design and craftsmanship. Dunnigan's furniture has as strong a signature as work by any fine artist. In this exhibit, he unveiled a floor lamp that continued his metaphor of the wrapped bundle. The upward focused shade is itself a fine example of hand-blown glass. The shade was the product of a collaboration with Keer Montague, a company formed by two RISD graduates which reflected once again the abundant talent around that school. The swollen base of the lamp is functionally astute for stability and continues Dunnigan's use of exaggeration as a source of dramatic tension in his designs.

His pale green occasional boudoir chair in lacquered mahogany and velvet took another look at the basic chair design he developed in the late 1970s. This chair was a more completely upholstered version than its predecessors, with less emphasis on wood than the chair in the gallery's opening exhibition. The padauk and wenge floor-standing clock also made use of decorative glass. Here, the glass door of the case features sandblasted chevrons that decrease in scale and opacity from bottom to top. The shape of the door itself emphasizes the swing of the pendulum. Its less-than-i
mposing height gives this case piece an elegant, but approachable, air.

The maple and ebony bench alongside the chair features hand painted silk by Wendy Wahl, Dunnigan's collaborator on fabric designs. The upholstered bench can also be seen in conjunction with the 1984 Exclamation Point Chair since both use the exploding form as a primary design focus. The Exclamation Point Chair appears reminiscent of the early 20th-century club chair, although Dunnigan's interest here has more to do with the effect of the birds'-eye maple front and rear arm panels and their exclamation point shapes. With this feature he dramatizes the chair's perspective.

Rounding out the show was another of his upholstered chairs, this time scaled for use at the dining or writing table. The legs terminate with his by-now familiar spade foot and the crown of the chair rolls back into a neat scroll design. The raised maple metropes and
routed triglyphs establish a decorative rhythm on the purpleheart apron of the writing table.
John Dunnigan - Padauk, Wenge, Gold plated Brass and Sandblasted Glass
"Grandmother Clock"

John Dunnigan - Lamp Detail

John Dunnigan - Writing Table Detail

John Dunnigan - Purpleheart and Maple Writing Table and Handpainted Silk Chair

John Dunnigan - Maple and Handpainted Silk Daybed

The Room by David Ebner - 1986

The Room by David Ebner, with Paintings by Joseph Roboli - 1986

This show focused on the energizing compatibility of contemporary fine and decorative art, and experimented with the synergy of mixing these two forms. This concept was not entirely successful for P&E. The exhibition demonstrated how strongly clients relate to a gallery in terms of their expectations. They came to see furniture and that is all they saw. Roboli's paintings were virtually overlooked, even though he was a successful East End painter. His paintings sold well elsewhere.

The work by Ebner was well-received and showed how far a studio furniture maker could stretch his residential scope. The exhibit included a mantel piece, and an exterior door with lites of delicately leaded, antique German textured glass. Ebner's furniture featured the refined use of wood in his upholstered pieces, cast bronze, and tables constructed from tubular steel. We can also see within this body of work a stylistic stretch that ranges from his very popular scallion coat rack (see Krenov & New Works 1984-85), which uses stacked lamination techniques he learned from Wendell Castle, to a French Deco-sveltness in his upholstered work, and then to the Egyptianate drama of his bleached oak blanket chest and full-length mirror. The tubular steel tables relate well to the upholstered work: both form and material have a strong contemporary style. Notice how a slender use of exotic woods in the upholstered work creates an elegant aura. The Egyptianate work was in step with what was occuring in post-modern architecture at the time.

The Furniture of James Schriber and Ron Puckett - 1986

The Furniture of James Schriber and Ron Puckett - 1986

This exhibit was another indication that the time for the featured show had come. As with Hucker and Osgood, Puckett and Schriber draw from furniture traditions rather than from the "art" or sculptural end of the spectrum, yet this exhibit also illustrated the effect of architectural currents on studio furniture making. Whereas earlier we saw the effects of neoclassicism, here post-modernism is the influence. The two furniture makers took on this influence in distinctly different ways. Schriber's Pencil Post Bed and China Cabinet illustrate this influence but exhibit different attitudes as finished furniture pieces. The four-posted bed takes the historical pencil-post form but treats it with minimal decoration. In fact, the bed has an almost Shaker-like simplicity. The split detailing in the headboard and the simple crown approaches industrial or Michael Graves-like use of detail. The footboard is even simpler. This reserve sets off the slender faceted pencil posts themselves so that they soar elegantly to their finials in a dramatic vertical gesture. The simplicity sets up the drama. This piece would become the best-selling bed in the gallery's experience, and a classic piece for Schriber. He is still making it with very few changes. The China Cabinet takes up another facet of the post-modernist movement in its use of color. Schriber's palette, as well as the cartoon-like aspects of the design, is reminescent of Michael Graves. Where the bed comes off as stylish and elegant, this piece says, "Let's have fun." A part of its charm is Schriber's free use of industrial materials like fiberglass and perforated metal. It is milk paint, however, that provides the dominant effect. The use of color and paint in studio furniture had been percolating since the early 1980s, especially since the time when Tommy Simpson influenced younger makers as a guest teacher at PIA. This influence can also be seen in the work of Tom Loeser and Mitch Ryerson, also of PIA. But the milk paint colors here are close to Michael Graves' use of color, in their new/old quality. The hues are soft and rich. The China Cabinet is a well-remembered piece from this Schriber show. A pair of candlestick tables in what Schriber calls his "invention with historical form" and a set of painted mahogany garden furniture pieces -- two chairs and a table -- completed his portion of the show.

Earlier Ron Puckett work reflected a decided Arts and Crafts influence (see his paduak/copper cabinet in the 1985 Dining Room show). Here he shows a post-modernist influence, but rather than the rich Graves colors that Schriber employs, Puckett used the starker contrasts of the French ébénistes: ebonized or purpleheart decorative detailing combined with fruitwood and maple. The most successful piece in the show for him was the mirror, which he went on to repeat a number of times. Note that the detailing on the mirror is both bolder as well as simpler than in his other pieces.

James Schriber - Curly Maple Pencil Post Bed
James Schriber - Poplar, Fiberglass, Perforated Metal China Cabinet

James Schriber - Maple and Metal Candlestick Table
James Schriber - Mahogany Garden Furniture

Ron Puckett - Purpleheart, Maple and Marble Sideboard

Ron Puckett - Purpleheart, Maple and Marble Chest of Drawers
Ron Puckett - Pearwood, Ebonized Cherry Mirror
New Work - 1986

  New Work - 1986
Wendell Castle, John Dunnigan, David Ebner, Hank Gilpin, Michelle Holzapfel, Bill Keyser, West Lowe, Ben Mack, Kristina Madsen, Richard Scott Newman, Zivko Radenkov, Peter Superti, William Turner.

NOTES: Comparing the work of two makers from this group could not more dramatically highlight the different directions within studio furniture being taken at this time. The pieces by Wendell Castle passed beyond functionality into the realm of wry commentary on table-ness. Here, he was thinking as a sculptor, but his decorative arts background in furniture making gave him a formidable technical vocabulary. Although these were not simple forms, they were not overly complicated for a master like Castle. The asymmetrically bent, beautifully veneered tabletop forms demonstrate the special advantage he has as a sculptor.

Contrast these pieces with Zivko Radenkov's oval cabinet. It, too, relied on a master maker's arsenal of technical skills. In this case, creating marquetry figure on a curved surface required that all of the cutting was done at an angle so that the slightly broader edge to the rear of the delicate floral figure would underlay the opposing bevel cut of the background veneer. Radenkov created a cabinet of such austere and fragile loveliness that is breathtaking. Like his Winter Cabinet, the criss-crossing of the marquetry branches by lines of lattice creates the metaphor of peering through a window onto a scene of natural beauty.
West Lowe - Maple "Duet" Music Stand
and Chair
Kristina Madsen - Padauk Hall Table

Wendell Castle - Curly Maple, Ebonized Walnut "Stand Apart"

Wendell Castle - Ebonized Cherry, Stained Maple "Ladder of Trust"

Zivko Radenkov - Padauk, Marquetry in field of Douglas Fir, Pink Ivory, Gabon Ebony, Yaca-wood, White Oak Cabinet

Commissions - 1986

Geoffrey Warner - Maple, Cherry, Wenge, Glass, Corian Two-Piece Bar

John Dunnigan Seating, Stewart Wurtz Coffee Table, Bruce Volz Clock, Richard Newman Chair

Richard Scott Newman - Cherry, Maple Bed
Bruce Volz - Headboard

    1 9 8 7
Works of Distinction - 1987

  Works of Distinction - "27"

NOTES: In its second year, "27" introduced the outdoor furniture of ceramicist Bennett Bean, as well as his familiar colorful pots lined with gold. The combination of terra cotta, slate, and serviceablity made the tables a gallery favorite. Also featured in "27" was the work of two RIT-trained furniture makers, Brad Smith and Peter Handler. Smith made a series of functional pieces like step ladders and his popular axe-handled stools in various American hardwoods. Peter Handler created his own niche with furniture of anodized aluminum, another reminder that furniture is not defined by its material.

St. Louis was home to IBEX, a glass studio where Sam Stang, David Levi, and Dimitri Michaelides collaborated on functional handblown glass work that was a great find for the gallery. The glasswork that came out of their studio embodied everything the gallery sought: distinctively personal, functional, and beautiful. By the time the group disbanded in the early 1990s, the IBEX partners had produced thousands of colorful, functional glass pieces such as tumblers (see 27 Race Lane Opening - 1986), vases, and bowls. The gallery continues to show the work of Sam Stang, whose own classically referenced vases, bowls, and platters carry on the standard established by IBEX.

Later, the furniture part of the gallery would feature the iron and steel work of David Secrest, along with work by metalsmith Tom Joyce, in a 1994 show. It was Secrest's twisted iron and steel door pulls that first caught the partners' attention for inclusion in the "work of distinction" section of the gallery.




Bennett Bean - Terra Cotta and Slate Dining Table; Ceramic Pots
Jonathan Bonner - Copper Weather Vane and Umbrella Stands

Brad Smith - Elm and Ash Ladders

Peter Handler - Anodized Aluminum, Glass Tea Cart

James Makins - Porcelain Whiteware
Ibex - Glass Vase
David Secrest - Pattern Welded Iron and Steel
Door Pulls

Early Spring Show - 1987


Early Spring Show - 1987
Jim Budlong, Wendell Castle, John Dodd, John Dunnigan, David Ebner, David Finck, Hank Gilpin, George Gordon, Ted Hawke, John Hein, Marie Hoepfl, Michelle Holzapfel, Todd Hoyer, Thomas Hucker, William A. Keyser, Silas Kopf, Donald Krawczyk, West Lowe, Ben Mack, Kristina Madsen, Robert March, Jere Osgood, Timothy Philbrick, Ron Puckett, Jamie Robertson, James Sagui, James Schriber, Rosanne Somerson, Steven Speich, Lee Trench, Alan von Bekum, Bruce Volz, Geoffrey Warner, Robert Whitley, Stephen Whitney, Jonathan Wright, Rick Wrigley, Stewart Wurtz.

The astonishingly broad roster for this show once again demonstrated the collective strength of the field from a variety of institutional and studio school sources.
Geoff Warner, a RISD graduate, produced a suite of pieces that provided the background for the show announcement. Warner's choice of white oak was unusual since it was not an exotic (highly favored at the time), but instead was a material that many associated with mundane functionality. But its combination with purple-heart gave Warner's work dramatic punctuation. There is a refreshingly spare, almost Japanese quality to his designs.

Ash, too, was a common wood mostly associated with tools and sports equipment. In Jere Osgood's ash and leather desk, ash was used in the aerodynamic design for its structural properties. The design provides a broad writing surface with a pencil drawer beneath that is supported by one of Osgood's signature pedestals. This time, however, he allowed the trunk of the pedestal to project above the writing surface by several inches. Those several inches incorporate a backstop which then curves and tapers to the ends of the writing surface. Although a small change, the result is an exponential leap in design.

Tim Philbrick's kosipo and slate
Tea Table came about partly as a result of the strong impression an antique tea table had made on him. The slate top and the ivory-like tacqua palm-nut feet show his openness to new materials. Its ideal proportions and the gently shouldered transition from apron to leg made this an outstanding piece.

Schriber's maple, pearwood, and ebony dining room table is another accomplished piece that has a strong architectural presence. His simple use of multiple square posts in the base allowed Schriber to create an architectural perspective. The table achieves a classical sense without resorting to mimicry of Doric or Ionic columns, but rather reflects the post-modern trends in the architecture of the time. There is also a contemporary sense brought forward in the use of squares supporting a circle. The top is made inviting by solid edging that is shaped with a gentle ogee, a shape Schriber repeats in the base. It is interesting to compare this table with the pedestal table later created by Rick Wrigley in 1998.

Rick Wrigley's work appeared for the first time in a P&E show. His side table, made of quilted mahogany, ebony, and sapele, reaffirmed the circulation of neoclassical ideas in the mid-1980s. The fluting of the legs is not of the technical complexity of a Newman table, but reflects the restraint that production values impose on developing an elegant and refined series. It is the use of black pan-headed industrial steel screws for decorative embellishment that gives stylistic spice to the piece and saves it from becoming too historically referenced. At the time, Wrigley had set up his shop in Holyoke, MA, where he established his Gatehouse Furniture Series, of which this table is an example. It was there, too, that he developed a friendship with Kristina Madsen who worked in nearby Easthampton, MA.

Madsen's wenge and holly bench displayed her early focus on surface pattern. At this time, she was creating patterns in wood through lamination, router cuts, and re-sawing. In this way, initial pattern composition was realigned
into more complex forms. This was the period before she visited Tasmania and Fiji and became immersed in Pacific shallow-relief carving techniques.

Rosanne Somerson's white oak daybed was the third variation on this theme to appear at the gallery and prompted one of her colleagues to remark that they just get prettier and prettier.

Don Krawczyk, a protégé of Somerson and Alphonse Mattia, produced a simple writing table suite for the show. The style was in contrast to the neoclassical influences of the time. Here technique was kept simple, and materials and design give the impression of informality and daily use. Krawczyk's table and chairs combine curly maple with milk-painted hardwood. The subdued tones of milk paint were popular with makers who wanted to introduce color while not making color the major statement of the piece. The use of simple cut-outs and relieved circles give Krawczyk's work a folksy feel, but with a contemporary look. Compare this Krawczyk suite to his return to this format in spring 1989.

Lee Trench was also searching for the feel of the vernacular in her work and, like Krawczyk, used milk paint to help render that sense. You can see this best expressed in her two basswood footstools. On a different order of complexity and elegance, Trench's chest of drawers was appointed with handmade glass pulls and feet. This touch gave the straightforward utility of the piece an overall feeling of delicacy.

Jamie Robertson's two lunettes bring to mind the work of the ébénistes and might come as a surprise to those who know his later work, such as the Sunrise bed or trompe l'oeil pieces. It is the prowess of his marquetry, however, that provides the continuity.

There were a number of pieces from Hank Gilpin in this show, including two of his chests of drawers. One of them utilized his legendary air-dried domestic hardwoods, in this case cherry and curly maple, while the smaller chest was of makore and Australian lacewood. The makore chest's barely four-foot height gave it a delicate stance for a case piece rich in drawers. It is a perfect size for silverware and small linens. This was especially refreshing work that was not insensitive to furniture history, but recognizably contemporary in feel. These two chests were created to bond viscerally with the familiar. Gilpin intended the viewer to imagine these pieces in the home. And in truth they did not stay long in the gallery. The accessibility of Gilpin's work stood in contrast to the demanding elegance of much of the historical Ruhlmann-inspired work of that time. In both chests, the corner stiles rise from the function of short legs at the bottom all the way to post supports for the top. The curve of this line is only slight but is enhanced because of the way the profile of the leg is joined into the carcase at 45 degrees. Gilpin claims that for him this was a powerful evolutionary design breakthrough. The pulls in both chests were lathe-turned. It's unusual for Gilpin to use a non-domestic hardwood, but occasionally he does to great effect, as in the six drawer makore and Australian lacewood chest.

Gilpin's corner desk was a large and unusual piece to come to the gallery since the gallery sales were mostly for residential use. Normally, a piece this size would be commissioned. The partners found its ample drawer space, including the accommodation of files, and the large work surface of the top to be appealing. Also, the beauty of the piece is due to Gilpin's knowledge of domestic hardwoods, in this case a composition based on the combination of hard and soft maples that provide subtle contrasts between the panels and framing.

Also present in the exhibition was a trio of pieces from three makers who had studied with Jim Krenov. The lovely country-styled hutch in fir and pearwood by Marie Hoepfl was fresh and unpretentious. Jim Budlong's simple cherry bowed wall-hung display cabinet was a sensitively rendered statement in minimalist form. Ted Hawke came from England to study with Krenov and produced a few pieces during his stay. His maple side table has unusual legs that are carved and not constructed.

Geoffrey Warner - Screen, Writing Table, Chair

Jere Osgood - Ash and Leather Desk

Timothy Philbrick - Kosipo and Slate Tea Table
Rick Wrigley - Hall Table

James Schriber - Maple, Pearwood and Ebony Dining Table
Wendell Castle - Ziricote, Brazilian Rosewood and Ivory inlay Demilune
Bill Keyser - Rosewood and Ash Music Stand
John Dunnigan - Side Chairs

Kristina Madsen - Wenge and Holly Bench

Rosanne Somerson - White Oak Reading Couch

Rosanne Somerson - Radiator Coffee Table

Don Krawczyk - Milk-painted Maple Writing Table and Chairs

Lee Trench - Painted Basswood Stools
Lee Trench - Curly Maple, Sterling, Glass Chest

Jamie Robertson - Ebony Lunettes

Hank Gilpin - Australian Lacewood and Makore Chest of Drawers

Hank Gilpin - Cherry Chest of Drawers

Hank Gilpin - Rock Maple Corner Desk

Hank Gilpin - Curly Maple Chairs and Cherry Table

Jim Budlong - Cherry Display Cabinet

Ted Hawke - Maple Side Table detail

Marie Hoepfl - Douglas Fir and Pearwood Hutch

Ben Mack - Cherry Entertainment Center


James Krenov and William Walker - 1987

James Krenov and William Walker - 1987

Krenov rarely returns to remake an earlier piece. In 1987, he returned to his 1970 Music Stand for Two, this time using maple instead of lemonwood. It is a table, 27 inches by 16 inches, with two drawers sized for music sheets that can be opened from opposite sides. There is a collapsible sheet-music rack. Opened, the rack cants to either side of the table so that two musicians, seated across from each other, can play from sheet music. The legs flare to the foot so that the table seems rooted. His cabinet for the show challenges a preconception of elegance. It stands squarely, and is both simple and refined. The vertical members are faceted to stand at 45 degrees to the two-door cabinet that itself occupies 60% of the vertical space. The relatively large scale of the cabinet gives the piece a strong, primitive look. The front of the cabinet is framed by horizontal rails, pierced by double tenons that are double wedged. Again, the impression is one of strength.

William Walker graduated from Krenov's program at College of the Redwoods in 1984. Rather than staying to teach, Walker moved north to Seattle to open his own shop. The oval table in pecan and doussie, sized for an eating nook, has the charm in scale and materials that you would expect from someone trained by Krenov, though Krenov himself made few tables and chairs.
Walker would go on to become a master of the dining table form. The four chairs that accompanied his breakfast table had open, fan-styled backs with seats covered in handwoven silk. The six spokes shaping the back make you think of an early Swedish country chair. At the top, however, they pierce first an arched stretcher, and then land in the arched crown rail -- beautiful and time-consuming work. Also, the spokes are faceted and ergonomically curved.

His accompanying writing table with two chairs struck a distinctly different stylistic direction. Elegant and French come first to mind in describing the set. Curved sides swell out while the front curves in towards the center. To the rear of the writing surface, a low case holds a number of small drawers and shelves. The combination of the bubinga frame and pearwood-veneered writing surface and drawer fronts is surprisingly compatible. Walker's bubinga and pearwood Writing Table would be included in the 2003-04 MFA Boston exhibit, The Hand of the Maker.

Completing this body of work was the Swedish ash long cabinet that is 62 inches wide and stands 49 inches high. The front is composed of four doors and four drawers that carefully use the beautiful ash figure of the thick-sawn veneer in a vertical and horizontal composition. The pulls are relieved from solid lipping sections. The long horizontal cabinet would continue to be a major focus of Walker's work. The gallery would show three other such cabinets in the coming years, the most recent being Walker's entry in the 20th anniversary show in 2001. It's instructive to see Walker's leg-to-carcase transition go through its subtle evolution over the years in these four chests, since it is not uncommon for makers to consider design elements over a long period of time.

James Krenov - Maple Music Stand

William Walker - Bubinga, Pearwood Desk and Chairs

James Krenov - Red Oak and Pecan Cabinet

William Walker - Doussie and Pecan Breakfast Table and Chairs

William Walker - Swedish Ash Cabinet
The Furniture of Wendy Stayman - 1987

The Furniture of Wendy Stayman - 1987

The shift in 1987 from theme shows to exclusive shows was prompted not only by the maturation of the work, but also by the fact that a group of collectors had finally evolved. Wendy Stayman was one of the makers who had developed a mature design style and who had the ability to produce a number of pieces for a featured show. Carcase building is time-intensive work. It's interesting that five of the seven pieces in Stayman's show included case pieces. The announcement piece is actually a precursor to the High Chest or Chiffonier shown in the exhibit. Both have a reserve reminiscent of the Federal period's reaction to European court furniture. The allure of Stayman's chest comes from her careful use of a contrasting wood color for edge-beading and her distinct personal direction in creating jewelry-like pulls. The strength of the Chiffonier is its careful balance between restrained form and delightful detailing. Also reminiscent of neoclassical work, the pair of Henson end tables combines subtle and elegant form with just enough detailing.

The second large case piece has a more Deco-like appearance and is a tour-de-force of router-created pattern work. Stayman laminated two distinctly different maple veneer patterns onto a stable board, and then routed through the top veneer at intervals to reveal the second pattern underneath. The effect is like a moiré or double-weave. The doors open from the ebony pull that runs top to bottom and adds an architectural force to the piece. These were two of the most exciting case pieces shown at Pritam & Eames to date.

Stayman's Tineo sideboard was also quite architectural in nature, but relied more on defining the tension of space and volume than on finesse of detailing.

The oak, holly, and marble bedside cabinets were satisfying pieces because of their spare but, once again, "just right" detailing. Like the Chiffonier, they utilized a tassel pull. The marble tops are a fitting capital for the tables, which otherwise might seem severe.

The last case piece was the Kimono Cabinet. It relied again upon exquisite decorative detailing. The two central macassar ebony doors provide a background for a tapered column of falling snow accumulating, as it were, at the bottom. This last illusion was created by the use of an eggshell lacquer technique that Stayman knew from her training in museum conservation. In this technique, tiny pieces of eggshell are pieced together to create a pattern which is then lacquered over to create a stable surface. The title Kimono Cabinet derived from the form given to the piece by the two smaller appended side cabinets. Rounding out the show was a table and stool, and two-seater bench. The maple and holly table, with its small single drawer and stool (not shown), could function as a small vanity. Stayman once again defined her style through subtle detailing. The drawer front with its round silver pull created an image of the moon in a cloudy streaked sky. The slightly canted legs give the table an architectural presence and here again, she has created tension between strong form and elegant trimming. Lastly, the two-seater bench, which works well in a foyer or bedroom, is perhaps her best known and most often sold furniture piece.
Wendy Stayman - Maple and Pearwood Chiffonier

Wendy Stayman - Maple and Ebony Henson End Tables
Wendy Stayman - Maple and Ebony Armoire
Wendy Stayman - Oak, Holly and Marble Bedside Cabinets

Wendy Stayman - Tineo Sideboard

Wendy Stayman - Bleached Maple and Holly Table

Wendy Stayman - Ebony and Egg Shell Lacquer Kimono Cabinet

Wendy Stayman - Cherry Bench

The Furniture Art of Judy Kensley McKie - 1987

The Furniture Art of Judy Kensley McKie - 1987

The Chase Table is Judy McKie's first work in bronze. Her friend and colleague, Garry Knox Bennett, ushered her into bronze work in the mid-80s. He encouraged her to try casting in response to an earlier piece in which she had painted the wood to look like metal. Bronze was a natural medium for her, not only because of its sculptural possibilities and sense of permanence, but also because it allowed her to think in terms of editions for her work. In this she would follow the tradition of European sculptors and keep the numbers small. The Chase Table is a table only in the sense that the two creatures support a glass top: they circle each other in an endless pursuit. Is it a game or is their pursuit in deadly earnest? This ambiguity characterizes the best of McKie's animal-derived forms. For the Chase Table, McKie said that she used rounded, full forms to depict a nonspecific animal reminiscent of pre-Columbian or ancient mythical creatures. She was after something that would cross cultures and time.

There were two case pieces in this show - the magnificent Dragonfly Chest of Drawers in limewood, and the strikingly tall Thumbprint Cabinet. In the Dragonfly Chest, the deep carving of the drawer fronts allows a play of shadow within the monochromatic tonality of the wood. The overall pattern was created by the repetition of a single image -- the dragonfly -- whose heads also serve as drawer pulls. She planted the chest above the floor on a stand to lighten its appearance.

The Thumbprint Cabinet was darkness to the lightness of the Dragonfly Chest. The thumbprint pattern is a fine relieved line on a black background, and the cabinet's simple rectilinear shape is a perfect canvas for the at-once chaotic and regular swirl that McKie created on the panels. She refered to it as "a fragmented fingerprint pattern." Both doors are segmented into eight panels, and the unpredictable pattern shifts as it moves up the panels. Despite its repetition of irregularity, McKie somehow managed to leave the piece in a state of balance. The regularity of the carving on the Dragonfly Chest and the irregularity of the carving on the Thumbprint Cabinet are graphic themes to which she would return in future work.

Beds in featured shows are rare. McKie's Turtle Bed was shown full length because part of its construction is a latticed platform. The rails repeat the carved and colored detail of the footboard and headboard, which is the bed's focus. The five acrobatic turtles could be dancers in a frieze or, given their aqua medium, joyful synchronized swimmers. The bed is black, the aqua and copper colors could not be deeper in tone, but the mood of the piece is light. McKie said that the bed was inspired by early American painted furniture and that this was the first piece in which she painted over a relief carving.

Besides the Chase Table, the show included three other tables. The Gazelle Table, a hall or console table, has a glass top. The back-to-back stance of the two creatures function as a table support, as seen in earlier McKie work. The long necks and anklets of the gazelles are embellished with rings that give this piece a distinctly African feel. The mahogany Bird Table was carved from solid wood. Its chunky pedestal leads you to think of a figure carved from a large stump, evoking a tradition in American folk carving. The bird is at once strong, familiar, and distinctly McKie. She herself said that she wanted to make something more primitive, direct, and less refined than her other work, and that African carved objects had influenced her.


Judy McKie - Bronze and Glass "Chase Table"

Judy McKie - Limewood "Dragonfly Cabinet"

Judy McKie - Limewood "Thumbprint Cabinet"

Judy McKie - Painted Maple "Snake Table"

Judy McKie - Ebonized Mahogany
"Gazelle Table" (without Glass Top)

Judy McKie - Pine Turtle Bed

Judy McKie - Mahogany Bird Table
Judy McKie - Ceramics
It has been said that McKie is a modernist, working within a long tradition of animal imagery usage in furniture, such as the ball and claw foot. However, her work has more in common with the spirit-imbued carving of African and Eskimo cultures and other animist traditions. McKie says this is the work that inspires her. She describes her first experience of working with animal form as coming from a state akin to daydreaming, where the mind is drifting and freely associating. She also says that at the time, she was reacting against the strict rectilangularity of '60s furniture.

The painted maple Snake Table was one of the most poplar pieces in the show. Despite its simple dancer-like appearance, it was deceptively difficult to make in wood. In this show, as in most of her one-person shows at P&E, McKie liked to stretch her thinking by including work in media other than wood and bronze: in this case, it was ceramics. Her bowls and plates had the double benefit of allowing her to percolate creatively and also to produce objects that could reach a wider audience.
Colette - 1987


Colette - 1987

NOTES: Colette's cloisonné enamel jewelry, with its mystical imagery on precious gold and silver, pioneered the pathway for Pritam & Eames's representation of work in metal. The layers of vitreous material, and the iridescence achieved as a result, enhanced her hieroglyphic and painterly imagery. The depth she achieved was the result of firing the pieces as many as 25 times. Colette's accomplishment in the field of wearable jewelry stems from a combination of strengths that include a marriage of painterly symbolism, technical skill, and an intriguing personal language. She is able to manipulate metal and enamel as though they were malleable materials. Colette's work evolved to include bronze table-mounted and wall-mounted stands that served as sculptural holders for the jewelry.

Colette - Pin on Stand
Colette - Letter Opener and Necklace
Colette - "Pictogram#17, Elegy Series"
22K and 24K Gold, Cloisonne
Cuff and Pendant Necklace
The Furniture of Bruce Volz - 1987

The Furniture of Bruce Volz - 1987

NOTES: The bed, table, and boudoir chair reflected a direction in Bruce Volz's work toward an elegant Egyptian-inspired decorative style. The use of a white field with dyed veneer gave this group of pieces its distinctive feel. The dresser's swelled front got added tension from its pink spikes of dyed veneer. The rose-colored Italian marble top took the piece in its own exuberant direction. This body of work set the second high water mark of Volz's work in studio furniture.
Bruce Volz - Bed and Table in Maple, Ebony, Analine Dye, Gold Leaf

Bruce Volz - Arm Chair and Handmade Paper, Marble, Italian Marble, Gold Leaf,
Japanese Paper Torchere

Bruce Volz - Dyed Maple and Italian Marble Sideboard/Dresser
Bruce Volz - Walnut Burl, Satinwood, Pearwood, Handmade Paper Tall Cabinet
and Marble, Japanese Paper, Gold Leaf Torchere

Bruce Volz - Dyed Bird's-Eye Maple, Ebony, Anodized Aluminum and
U-joints Coffee Table

Early Winter/New Work - 1987

    Early Winter/New Work - 1987
Dale Broholm, John Dunnigan, Hank Gilpin, Thomas Hucker, Ben Mack, Kristina Madsen, Richard Scott Newman, Jamie Robertson, James Schriber, Peter Superti, Lee Trench, Geoff Warner, Rick Wrigley.

NOTES: This show had an unfortunate burden to carry in that its opening coincided with the stock market crash of 1987. The partners thought the exhibit might be doomed: "Will anyone want to think about studio furniture?" But they did. In fact, the announcement piece, James Schriber's Sleigh Bed, sold the day after the crash. Schriber's piece itself reflects the classic sleigh bed form for a single bed, though it does impart a contemporary feel.
This delightful update concentrated on the beautiful curves inherent in the form, with a Deco-style molding in ebonized wood for dramatic contrast against the cherry.

The strength of Hank Gilpin's refined curly maple chest came from its beautifully figured, sequentially cut, solid-wood drawer fronts and side panels. The high stance of the legs, plus the low overall height of this five drawer chest, made this an unusual piece. It was reminiscent of a dresser, but too high to be called one.
James Schriber - Cherry and Ebony Sleigh Bed

Jamie Robertson -
Maple and Linen Chair
Hank Gilpin - Curly Maple and Rosewood
Chest of Drawers
Kristina Madsen - Wenge, Ebony and Obsidian Cabinet on Stand
In Kristina Madsen's Chest on Stand, the deep resonant colors of the wenge dramatized the patterned texture that she explored in the cabinet's front and side panels. This was her most complex piece to date, in which she created patterns by resawing. After this piece, Madsen turned her attention to South Pacific carving techniques, gradually bringing them into her pattern work. This chest, therefore, marks an important transition in her work, and was included in the 2003-4 MFA Boston show, The Maker's Hand - American Studio Furniture, 1940-1990.
Commissions - 1987    
Richard Scott Newman - Maple and Ebony Table with Drawer

George Gordon - Pearwood and Maple Desk
  1 9 8 8
Early Spring Show - 1988

  Early Spring Show - 1988
David Ebner, Therese Edson, George Gordon, Robert Hannan, Thomas Hucker, Judy Kensley McKie, Richard Scott Newman, Alan Olson, Rosanne Somerson, Lee Trench, William Walker, Geoffrey Warner, Stephen Whitney. Also, work from Alphonse Mattia, James Krenov, Wendy Maruyama

NOTES: Therese Edson and Alan Olson, a Colorado couple, entered the furniture movement by painting and repainting found furniture. Their attitude toward furniture was casual and although their decorative painting was accomplished, the integrity of the underlying furniture was potluck.

David Ebner's king-size bed featured white oak and oak veneer cut into a sunburst pattern on the foot and headboards. Its allusion to Japanese architectural style gave it strength and you could even say serenity, while the sunburst pattern offered a nice greeting to the beginning of each day.

From George Gordon came a walnut bench with woven leather upholstery. Although Gordon's body of work was not extensive, this piece related well to his ample cabinets and rocking chair. In all of these pieces, Gordon developed a language of simple curves that defined the forms as his own.

Garry Bennett's Judy table
marked a rare appearance of his work at Pritam & Eames. Its title and use of bronze referred to McKie's involvement in bronze casting, which he had mentored, the year before.

Bob Hannan took up Colorcore to render the stylized folksy graphics of his pieces. He combined simple whimsy with a Calagari distortion of perspective to create his own niche in studio furniture.
Therese Edson and Alan Olson - Wood, Acrylic, Gold Leaf, Neon, Brass "Temple"
Therese Edson and Alan Olson - Styrene, Acrylic, Gold Leaf, Neon "Unexploded Box"

David Finck - Ash Cabinet, David Ebner - Oak Bed,
Peter Superti - Aframosia, Anigre and Steel Mirror

Judy McKie - Ebonized Mahogany Bird Table;
George Gordon - Walnut Upholstered Bench

Garry Knox Bennett -
Bronze and Corian
"Judy" Table
Bob Hannan - Colorcore and Walnut Blanket Chest

Lee Trench - Painted Maple Day Bed and Basswood Stool

Other New Work - Spring, 1988

  Other New Work - Spring, 1988

NOTES: Other makers contributing work that spring included Alphonse Mattia, Wendy Maruyama, and James Krenov.
Mattia's piece was called Chair O'Drawers and could be considered an extension of his valet series. It was also a witty allusion to Jere Osgood's l972 Chest of Chair (see Michael Stone, Contemporary Woodworkers, Peregrine Press, p. 155), illustrating that the history of studio furniture was already sufficiently established so as to provide its own internal references.

Wendy Maruyama's Urban Amazon hat rack
is nominally functional, while providing the opportunity for her to design a piece around the painted sculptural forms that interested her at the time.

James Krenov's piece, a departure for him, could best be called a cabinet on table as opposed to a cabinet on stand. This piece is relatively large within the Krenov body of work: 61"H x 34"W x 21"D. The spectacular western maple panels are distinguished by the subtlety of the Japanese oak. This is one of his cabinets where the convex door panels fly free of the outside framing.
Alphonse Mattia - Chair O' Drawers
James Krenov - Western Maple and Japanese Oak

Wendy Maruyama - Jelutong "Urban Amazon" Hat Rack

The Furniture of John Dodd and Ben Mack - 1988

The Furniture of John Dodd and Ben Mack - 1988

NOTES: Both John Dodd and Ben Mack received their training in furniture making at RIT during the '70s. Since they were acquaintances, the two-person show was a congenial event. From the gallery's point of view, the idea of a combined show came from their compatible design aesthetic. It's difficult to identify any traditional furniture influence in either Dodd's or Mack's work. Take, for example, Dodd's free-standing corner screen with a table for flower arrangements. This type of piece is likely to inspire a need rather than satisfy one, and thus it broadens your sense of use. It illustrates how a piece first seen as pure sculpture can, in fact, add a distinctive dimension to our private space. Dodd used thin, flowing panels of bent veneer to create a soft rippled effect much like fabric. This piece is free-standing and could be used as a vanity screen or a partial divide in a residential space. Two other free-standing dividers were included in the show, each with a nominal furniture function. One featured two narrow, floor-length mirrors as well as a single central drawer. The drawer is not hung inside a case. Instead, Dodd used the central track for the drawer as its mount to the rear stile of the stand. In addition to the utility of the drawer, there is a space on the right to hold canes or umbrellas. The third piece, partially a collector's cabinet, could also function as a divider or privacy screen. The cabinet is enclosed by a slender glass door. Dodd received an interesting commission as a result of this work, from a client whose interior vision was up to his. Fortunately, the client was willing to devote an important part of her New York apartment space for the large installation. The cabinet included lit spaces for objects as well as closed compartments to house her collection of obis (kimono sashes) -- see 1988 commissions.

Ben Mack's two case pieces had been preceded by a media cabinet the year before. The media cabinet was at once both novel and fulfilled an existing need: it nicely hid the various components of an audiovisual system. As with his liquor cabinet in this show, the entertainment center was structured more like an architectural space than any traditional cabinet form.

John Dodd - Beeswing Nara, Walnut
Room Divider

John Dodd - Cherry, Ebony, Maple
Room Divider

John Dodd - Ash, Machich, Anigre
Room Divider

Ben Mack - Maple Entertainment Center

Ben Mack - Cherry, Cherry Cluster Burl Credenza/Dresser
Mack's second large case piece, a cherry dresser, was similarly structured, but as with the media cabinet, across a horizontal plane. Rather than the tension of suspended blocks as captured in the media cabinet, this cabinet's tension comes from two sections of a bowed front curve that combined a two-drawer section on the left and a series of storage shelves on the right.
Functional & Decorative Holloware - 1988

Functional & Decorative Holloware - 1988
Michael Banner, Ken Carlson, Chunghi Choo, Mardi-Jo Cohen, Charles Crowley, Robert Davis, Pat Flynn, Skip Gaynard, Robly Glover Jr., John Horn, Marvin Jensen, Jim Kelso, Thomas Markusen, Kurt Matzdorf, Thomas Muir, Robyn Nichols, Tom Odell, Janet Prip, John Michael Route, Michel Royston, Claire Sanford, Nancy Slagle, Randy Stromsoe, Leonard Urso.

This seminal show planted the seeds for future metal exhibitions, whether holloware, jewelry, or flatware. Eleni Prieston's knowledge of metalsmithing techniques, as well as her connections through the studio jewelry field, provided the qualifications to select work. She was aware of an undercurrent of American artisans, mostly associated with universities, who were pushing boundaries in metalwork. This was the first of six exhibits over a nine-year period in which the gallery focused on holloware with the hope of creating a small, but durable, audience for this discipline.

In sterling silver, Tom Muir accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of creating a double-walled hollow bowl by raising and soldering two forged bowls, the exterior wall of which is animated by a series of repousse protrubences. Other notable work in the show included silver goblets with an Art Noveau flavor by Len Urso; cast bronze vases by Janet Prip, woven verdigris copper baskets by Ken Carlson, turned copper platters by Tom Markusen, lyrical silver serving pieces by Robyn Nichols, Marvin Jensen's mokume-gane (wood grain) vessels, Robley Glover's light-hearted fabricated copper tea pots, the highly stylized silver holloware of Kurt Matzdorf, and Charles Crowley's architectonic statements in precious and non-precious metals that incorporated vessel and stand.
Robyn Nichols

Tom Muir - Silver and Nickel
Double-wall Bowl

Leonard Urso - Silver Flower Goblets

Janet Prip - Pewter and Gold Face Vases

Jim Kelso - Silver, Gold, Wood Netsuki

Tom Odell - Raised Patinated Copper Vessels

Kurt Matzdorf - Silver, Gold Vessels and Candleholders

Ken Carlson - Woven Copper Porcupine Basket

Thomas Markusen - Copper Cake Plate

Marvin Jensen - Mokume Gane Vessel

Michael and Maureen Banner - Silver Teapots
Charles Crowley -
Silver Teapot
and Painted Metal Stand

Randy Stromsoe - Silver Bowl on Stand
Marvin Jensen -
Anodized Aluminum
Floor Lamp
Nancy Slagle - Silver Teapot and Vases
Robly Glover -
Patinated Brass Teapot
Twelve American Jewelers - 1988

Twelve American Jewelers - 1988
Jamie Bennett, Colette, Robert Ebendorf, Vicki Eisenfeld, Lilly Fitzgerald, Mary Lee Hu, Jung-Hoo Kim, Tom Odell, Eugene & Hiroko Pijanowski, Vernon Reed, Alan Burton Thompson, Leonard Urso.

This first exhibit devoted to jewelry brought together an eclectic mix of studio goldsmiths whose work represented a range of jewelry techniques and styles. The show featured wearable work in metal by jewelers who had limited exposure but were prolific and well respected by their peers, whether through their university associations or their individually cultivated audiences.
In addition to the California-based Colette's cloisonné enamel jewelry with its signature mystical references, the show also introduced the pioneering cybernetic, interactive work of Texas jeweler Vernon Reed. There is a feeling of a woven component to the jewelry of Eugene and Hiroko Pijanowski. Cranbrook-trained, the Pijanowskis also included mokume-gane or metal inlay techniques in their work. This show introduced their largely ceremonial neckpieces and cuffs that would turn the heads of all but the wearer.
Eugene and Hiroko Pijanowski

Tom Odell - Gold and Textured Patinated Japanese Alloys Brooch

Leonard Urso - 18K Gold and Pearl
"Figure" Brooch

Vicki Eisenfeld - Woven Gold, Silver and Married Metals Neckpiece and Earrings

Mary Lee Hu - Woven Silver
Neckpiece and Bracelet

Robert Ebendorf - Linoleum Bracelets

Jamie Bennett - Enamel, Silver, Gold Brooches

Vernon Reed - Computerized Neck Piece
Lilly Fitzgerald - Brooch and Earrings
The Furniture Art of John Dunnigan - 1988

The Furniture Art of John Dunnigan - 1988

The pair of chairs that appear on the announcement can be and were called asymmetrical, but when both chairs are viewed from the rear, they form an easy symmetry. So the chair has two personalities: one as solo and another in pairs or groups. The unusual crown rail has the panache of a fashionable French twist because we see the maple only there and in the legs. The upholstered body of the chair has the effect of a stylish suit matching the coiffure. It is a striking and simple design. Again we notice Dunnigan's use of a wide seat-front that tapers severely in width toward the back of the chair: it's the same perspective game that Dunnigan frequently enjoys playing in his work. Here the simple curve of the back translates seamlessly into the curve of the crown.

Another striking seating piece was the Emerald or Cleavage Settee. This settee, like the pair of chairs just described, combined the simple curved form with surprising conclusions. The curved line from the arm to the foot is an unbroken one: on the inside, it has but a single transition. This form allowed Dunnigan to dramatize the piece with a tiny foot and tiny scrolled finials at the top of the arm. By giving himself this single transition, he created tension with the bloated junction at the point of the apron. By sacrificing a right-angle junction at the apron, he created much of the drama of the piece. In the upholstered volume of the settee, the most striking feature is the obvious cleavage in the middle of the back. Again, the curves here continue the curves of the front. The detail of a double canister on both sides of the couch gives the piece another moment of excess. Dunnigan's upholstered work is so voluptuous that his teacher, Tage Frid, would tease him about making furniture for bordellos. If you see Dunnigan's style as the enjoyment of slight decadence, then you understand his choice of French Deco linoleum for the top of the writing table, the rightness of the pink-ness of his vanity, and the splendid luxury of the upholstered tops under glass in the two side cabinets of his vanity suite.

John Dunnigan - Asymmetrical Side Chairs

John Dunnigan - Curly Maple and Silk "Cleavage" Settee

John Dunnigan - Maple, Rosewood and Silk Chair

John Dunnigan - Bird's-eye Maple, Rosewood, French Deco Linoleum Escritoire
with Detail of Top
John Dunnigan - Vanity
Richard Scott Newman: Masterwork - 1988

Richard Scott Newman: Masterwork - 1988

The time required to build Newman's work is so intensive that he would go on to appear in only one other featured show at P&E. This was the high point of Newman's incomparably detailed ébéniste work, and would prove to be his only one-person show at the gallery. His other solo show was at the Peter Joseph Gallery in 1995.

The centerpiece for the P&E show was a fluted cabinet on stand. It is difficult for anyone, except perhaps another maker, to appreciate the amount of time that such a piece requires, particularly for a small shop such as Newman's. The cabinet design evolved from Newman's thinking about fluted boxes
(see 1989 Ebony show). The cabinet itself is oval, making its design and construction even more difficult. Its single door opens to a bird's-eye maple interior that houses two shelves and one shallow drawer. The stand's four legs are shaped helical flutes that twist in opposite directions on the left and right sides of the cabinet. The helix begins as a straight vertical flute from the foot that travels through the ebony bracelet attachment for the stretcher, and then accelerates. The stretcher mirrors the fluting of the cabinet and is surfaced similarly with figured maple facings and ebony trim. The diameter of each leg increases in proportion to the increase in the helix. The ebony finial is itself an accomplishment of form and execution. There are a number of excellent case pieces in Newman's work, including the one that would be in the 1989 MFA Boston exhibit New American Furniture, but none would compare with the flamboyance and passion of this piece.

His other furniture designs in the show had previously been introduced in the gallery, and they completed an overview of Newman's most popular pieces from the 1980s. Of particular note is the walnut, ebony, and gold-over-bronze umbrella stand. Its predecessor first appeared in the gallery in 1985, and it remains one of the most beautiful, as well as unusual, pieces in the studio furniture field. The design metaphor is a classic: the tied bundle. The gold circlets continue the metaphor with the appearance of a braided rope. The beautiful
craft of the gold sections, especially those set between the ebony beads, produces a stunning effect.

Newman's mirror, combined with his hall or demilune tables, is a statement of reserved elegance. In contrast to the over-the-top quality of the cabinet, the leg treatments of his tables include vertical fluting edged with ebony and flat-faceted ebony faces separated by narrow flutes. Because of their exceptional length, the vertical thrust of these legs is as dramatic as their impossible slenderness. As supports they are rigid structure; the slimness is accomplished through a complicated internal structure including steel parts that Newman engineered. The legs end in a turned transition crowned by apron corner blocks embellished with starburst ormolu.

Richard Newman - Mahogany, Ebony and Vermeil Demilune

Richard Newman - Curly Maple and Ebony Side Table

Richard Newman - Figured Maple and Gabon Ebony Fluted Cabinet

Richard Newman - Walnut, Ebony and
Gold-over-Bronze Umbrella Stand
Richard Newman - Cherry, Ebony and Vermeil Hall Table
and Cherry Mirror
The mirror maintains the elegant simplicity of the tables. Newman's problem was finding glass fabricators willing to work to his standard of tolerances. Note how the diagonal corner in the glass, created by the beveled border, has to intersect exactly with the mitered corner of the frame.

Absent from this show were other furniture forms Newman had done splendidly in the past, such as chairs, dining tables and writing tables. However, you must appreciate the total commitment of human resources by one of the field's finest makers that this fluted cabinet represents.
Two Furnituremaker's Art:
Kristina Madsen and Rosanne Somerson - 1988

Two Furnituremakers' Art: Kristina Madsen and Rosanne Somerson - 1988

Though Kristina Madsen trained at Leeds Design School and Rosanne Somerson at RISD, they had come to know each other and respect one another's work from past shows. The desire to exhibit together was mutual. Again, the two-maker show format reflected respect and consideration for the enormous financial burden that preparation for a one-person show demands, as well as consideration of how much original work a single maker can produce for one show. While it is one thing for a painter to come up with a series of original canvases, it is another matter altogether for a furniture maker to create a series of original pieces. The learning curve for a single piece can be daunting.

Somerson's Tortoise Buffet, her announcement piece, included a number of design details that were current in her work at the time: the wavy shaped edge, the hanging medallion on the drawer, and the distressed or bleached treatment of hardwood. The buffet's faintly theatrical air is countered by Somerson's choice of neutral colors. Her largest piece in the show was a
bloodwood trestle table with tulipwood details. Its straightforward function and quiet detailing make it more historically reflective than many of her other pieces. More in line with the direction of her work at the time was the cherry and ebony High Heeled Coffee Table, which had debuted earlier in a Workbench show in New York. This table had something to say and it was part of a developing trend of narrative in studio furniture.

The show also contained pieces from Madsen's recent past, as well as those leading in new directions. You can visualize her pau amarello and ebony extension dining table in the context of a Deco-inspired boardroom: when you look at the chair, you can almost see the Chrysler building. The Tasmanian myrtle bench, which she completed during an artist's residency in Tasmania, is another piece in which she explored patterns derived from router-cutting, re-sawing, and
realignment. The flared and canted ends of the bench ground it and impart a graceful attitude. This bench is a precursor to her South Pacific-inspired shallow relief carved work.

Madsen's pau amarello dressing screen has a delicacy and warmth that is further enhanced by her fine linen crochet, a detail made possible by the needlework skills she learned in childhood. The crochet demonstrates her fascination with pattern. The carved stepped footing detail on the dressing screen reappears in her wenge daybed with re-sawn and realigned patterns in its detail work. Note the tassels on the silk canister cushions, and the use of feathers plucked from chickens on her mother's farm.

Madsen's maple and huon pine side table also draws on re-sawn and realigned work to create patterns, this time highlighted with blue acrylic.
Rosanne Somerson - Granadillo, Wenge and Blistered Maple "Tortoise Buffet"

Kristina Madsen - Tasmanian Myrtle Bench

Rosanne Somerson - Bloodwood and Tulipwood Trestle Table

Rosanne Somerson - Cherry and Ebony
"High-Heeled Coffee Table"

Rosanne Somerson - Black and White
Reading Couch

Rosanne Somerson - Grenadillo, Wenge, Blistered Bird's-Eye Maple, Glass ZigZag Coffee Table

Kristina Madsen - Pau Amarello and Ebony Dining Table



Kristina Madsen - Detail of Huon Pine and Acrylic Side Table
Kristina Madsen - Pau Amarello and Linen Dressing Screen

Kristina Madsen - Wenge and Silk Moire Bench
New Work - November 1988

  1988 - New Work
David Ebner, Therese Edson, Hank Gilpin, George Gordon, Thomas Hucker, Alan Olson, Joe Tracy, Bruce Volz, Geoff Warner, Rick Wrigley.

NOTES: The inclusion of work in this show by David Ebner and Hank Gilpin should be noted. Anyone perusing the Archives could not help but notice the impact that work by these two makers had for the gallery. Particularly in the growth period of the 1980s, the accessibility of Ebner and Gilpin's work, as well as the price level, allowed for broad client participation in studio furniture. They had true importance in sustaining the gallery as it evolved a long-term, serious market. David Ebner's work in this show included his tradition-referenced gateleg table and ladderback chairs,which he had been making throughout the 1980s, as well as a new chair design that he called his Biedermeier chair. This dining chair has its rear leg and back formed from a single sweeping saber curve. The back itself is fashioned from three posts resembling columns topped by capitals, a design feature of the Biedermeier movement. The strength of the apron joinery and the heft of the legs allow for a clean and contemporary chair constructed without the use of stretchers.

Hank Gilpin's side tables were a design he had introduced two years earlier and had re-made numerous times with various woods. Here he used figured maple with spalting that gives them a calligraphic character. The signature of these tables is the four-sided, double stretcher bottom.

Tom Hucker's circular library table in Carpathian elm burl and beefwood was another high-concept piece. Its circular top flows out of the apron into a tri-structured base. Not only are there three supports for the top, but each support is a small stand with three posts. The combination of the circle with the triangle is one of the oldest graphic tensions and one that recurs in Hucker's thinking. Hucker often begins a piece by considering the energy of combining opposites. We have already seen the combinations of transparency versus solid in his furniture. In 1989, he would combine mass and weightlessness in his Boston MFA piece for the New American Furniture show.
Thomas Hucker - Carpathian Elm Burl and Beefwood Library Table

David Ebner - Cherry Gateleg Table and Ladderback Chairs

Hank Gilpin - Figured Maple Side Tables

Rick Wrigley - Gatehouse Production Tables

Rick Wrigley - Maple and Pearwood Queen and Twin Beds
Commissions - 1988    
John Dodd - Room Divider and Display Cases in Curly Moave, Cherry and Oak

Jere Osgood - Brazilian Rosewood and Ash Conference Table

Richard Scott Newman - Cherry, Maple and Ebony Chest of Drawers

James Schriber - Lacewood and Leather Bench
    1 9 8 9
Early Spring Show - 1989

  Early Spring Show - 1989
Garry Knox Bennett, Timothy Coleman, David Ebner, Kenton Hall, Michelle Holzapfel, Todd Hoyer, Thomas Hucker, Silas Kopf, James Krenov, Don Krawczyk, Richard Scott Newman, Stephen Pemberton, Ron Puckett, James Schriber, Peter Spadone, Lee Trench, William Walker, Geoff Warner, Dick Wickman, Jonathan Wright, Rick Wrigley, Stewart Wurtz.

NOTES: The is the first announcement designed by Diana Zadarla, a graphic designer trained at the Pratt Institute who joined P&E in 1989. She established a signature style for the gallery's printed materials that fit like a glove with the owners' approach. Previously she was senior art director of licensed products for Henson Associates (Muppets) in New York. Coincidentally, the late Jim Henson had a collection of studio furniture that included work by Judy McKie and Wendy Stayman.

The mirror by Steve Pemberton used on the announcement seemed to sum up the surface decoration and use of neoclassical references of the period.

James Schriber's dining table was also classically referenced in its form, but instead of complex veneer-decorated surfaces, he gave this solid wood extension table a contemporary simplicity that emphasized its elegant form as well as the beauty of the bubinga.

David Ebner's green painted version of his Biedermeier chair took his by now popular chair form toward surface decoration with its paint and silver leaf. In contrast, his walnut and elm burl tea table was more connected to the central themes in his work over the years.

James Krenov's two pieces continued his exploration of the small cabinet, with wood as his muse. The oak and teak cabinet, is a case on stand with the legs continuing up the sides like an armature. He said later that he initially continued those lines into a crest over the top but finally dismissed this resolution. What remains is an embrasure of the cabinet that is a metaphor for the opening seed jacket revealing the substance within. It is a true expression of Krenov's philosophy to see the piece through the material and follow that inspiration wherever it leads during the making. The beautifully figured oak doors are handsomely set off by the contrasting teak frame. The second cabinet, in yaca-wood and mahogany, combines two themes established in his earlier cabinets: the first is the flow of the leg into the vertical stile ending in a protruding horn-like finial (this goes back to his 1983 yaca-wood cabinet); the second is the walk-about that was introduced in the gallery in 1986.

Bill Walker's square low table, like James Schriber's dining table, was made entirely of solid sections in a design form where one would expect the use of veneer: a top framed on four sides is normally a veneered construction. Walker's design solution for the expansion of a solid top within a frame was to leave the top split diagonally down the middle and to join these two halves with patinated steel tenons, thereby giving the piece an interesting material dimension as well as an unusual design feature. It was a fresh take on a low table, unfortunately one not repeated.

Don Krawczyk's contribution of a side table, two chairs, and a cupboard, continued his contemporary folk vernacular.

Tom Hucker's walnut low table is a study in volumes. It is not a particularly large table, but its form suggests a massive weight suspended above a platform base. The massive top, however, is a veneered hollow form. The volume of the base supports the illusion of weight. With the energy of the two volumes and the effect of their proximity, Hucker again provokes the intellect.

Rick Wrigley's bed was part of a series based on simple rectilinear parquetry patterns. Because of their clean lines and contemporary feel, these beds were successful designs.

The Azalea Cabinet from Silas Kopf was another excellent example of his floral naturalism created through marquetry. The jarrah field provides a richly colored background for the pale azalea blossoms.

Michelle Holzapfel's Oak Leaf Bowl is another strong example of naturalistic form. The carving does not completely surround the top, allowing the natural organic breaks in the burl material a chance to make their own statement.

The Ron Puckett armoire was wonderfully detailed. It is unusual to have a cabinet of this scale to exhibit because of the amount of time it takes to make such a piece. It was even more unusual that a second piece of this scale arrived later in the year, an armoire by Spadone-Rieger.
Stephen Pemberton - Lacewood, Ebony, Maple, Oil Paint Mirror

David Ebner - Painted Side Chair with Silver Leaf;
James Schriber - Bubinga Dining Room Extension Table

David Ebner - Maple and Wenge Chair, Walnut Elm Burl Tea Table

James Krenov - Oak and Teak Cabinet
James Krenov - Yaca-wood, Mahogany and Glass Cabinet

William Walker - Mahogany and Swedish Maple Low Tables

James Schriber - Maple, Ebony and Silver Dining Table

Don Krawczyk - Wenge, Maple, and Milk Painted Chair

Don Krawczyk - Side Table
Dick Wickman - Lamp
Don Krawczyk - Cupboard

Thomas Hucker - Walnut Coffee Table
Rick Wrigley - Maple, Ebonized Pearwood Bed

Todd Hoyer - Mesquite Bowl
Michelle Holzapfel - Cherry "Oak Leaf" Bowl

Silas Kopf - Jarrah and Ebony Azalea Cabinet

Thomas Hucker - Beefwood and Bronze Low Table

Ron Puckett - Bubinga and Wenge Armoire
On Board the Edna: EBONY - 1989

On Board the Edna: EBONY - 1989

The idea for this show was authored by Tim Philbrick, who acted as distributor for nearly 1,000 board feet of plantation-grown Macassar ebony. The ebony came from Indonesia on board the Edna, a friend's 90-foot steel-hulled schooner. Seven lots of ebony boards were sorted and distributed to John Dunnigan, Hank Gilpin, Richard Scott Newman, Timothy Philbrick, James Schriber, Rosanne Somerson, and Stephen Turino. The pieces in this exhibit were small, respecting the amount of material yielded by the ebony boards. Three pieces from this show broke new ground for their makers: Tim Philbrick's Vide Poche table; Hank Gilpin's 30-inch high, seven-drawer chest, and Richard Newman's eight-sided fluted container.

If a single piece could speak for elegance, Philbrick's Vide Poche table certainly has to be a top candidate. The feeling of just-rightness in its proportions is unmistakable and, like a perfect chord in music, it sweeps through the mind and puts it at ease. The title of the table means the piece was designed for a gentleman to empty his pockets at the end of the day. Seeing this table in Macassar ebony, it is difficult to imagine it in any other material. The leg-to-apron design draws from ideas that were present in Philbrick's Pier Table in the opening show: the shaped but vertical leg with its slight knee at the junction with the apron. These ideas and proportions at this scale really works magic.

Richard Newman's 16-fluted container runs the pattern of the ebony veneer through the break for the lidded top. At first glance, it is difficult to tell that a lid would be removed by pulling up on the satinwood finial. This leaves the flutes without distraction and gives their circular rhythm its full effect. How to resolve the vertical fluting into the compound curve of the top required solutions that only Newman's standard of craftsmanship could render. The unbroken ebony also dramatizes the spiral satinwood finial -- it might just as well be a flame.

The language of the framing of Hank Gilpin's 30-inch high, seven-drawer chest is completely consistent with his chest of drawer work in the mid to late '80s. Because of the small size of the ebony boards, Gilpin decided almost as a novelty to reduce his chest work to this small size. Although reduced in height, Gilpin gives the form a narrow, square cross section that makes it appear tall once again. People fell in love with this piece and had to have it, even though most couldn't imagine what they would use it for. It was so well received that Gilpin went on to make it in a number of woods, including purpleheart and a combination of walnut with pepper oak.
Steve Turino - Side Tables

Timothy Philbrick - Vide Poche
James Schriber - Desk, Judy McKie - Giraffe

Hank Gilpin - Seven Drawer Chest
Richard Newman - Fluted Box

Rosanne Somerson -
Tall Bowl
John Dunnigan - Side Table
    Rosanne Somerson's Tall Cup is the first time that she used split, reconstructed turning. She turns, removes a segment, and then reassembles the piece. The small turned leopardwood cup for jewelry is a motif that recurs in past jewelry cabinets as well as in future ones (see Somerson's jewelry cabinet in P&E's 1991 10 x 16 show). Some of her earlier earring cabinets used a half-turned cup that completes itself through reflection in the mirror.

The next two shows in 1989 featured work by Michael Hurwitz and Judy McKie. Their exhibits at P&E preceded the Boston MFA's seminal show, New American Furniture,
which opened later in the year. That museum show provided an official vetting of 26 furniture makers, many of whom had exhibited at P&E, and represented a climax to a decade of growing self-awareness on the part of makers and P&E that this work would come to be identified as "studio furniture."
American Work in Metal - 1989

  American Work in Metal - 1989
Michael and Maureen Banner, Garry Knox Bennett, Jamie Bennett, Jonathan Bonner, Ken Carlson, Mardi-Jo Cohen, Colette, Charles Crowley, Robert Davis, Vicki Eisenfeld, Lilly Fitzgerald, Pat Flynn, Skip Gaynard, Robly Glover, Carrie Harper, Bessie Jamieson, Jim Kelso, Robert Kulicke, Curtis LaFollette, Thomas Markusen, Kurt Matzdorf, Tom Muir, Tom Odell, Gene Michael Pijanowski, Hiroko Sato Pijanowski, Eleni Prieston, Janet Prip, Vernon Reed, Michel Royston, Nancy Slagle, Mark Stanitz, Leonard Urso.

NOTES: P&E's commitment to metal as a medium deepened during these years, and the gallery featured major work like the weathervanes that Jonathan Bonner fabricated out of copper and granite. On a smaller scale were whimsical utensils by Mardi-Jo Cohen, fabricated out of silver and Colorcore, and Pat Flynn's refined ceremonial beakers in silver, gold, pewter, and lead. Academically trained metalsmiths including Mark Stanitz, Curtis LaFollette, and Tom Muir, seemed less concerned with function than with the exploration of technique as well as narrative content. One is left to wonder what story is being told by Mark Stanitz on his carved and fabricated silver box, or by Tom Muir with his sophisticated silver vessel. There is a sense that these highly imaginative metalsmiths are leaving something unsaid, and it is this aspect of their largely nonfunctional work that entices an exchange with the viewer.
A counterpoint to that approach was the unabashedly wearable work of Eleni Prieston. Her 22-karat granulated jewelry is valuable and unapologetic in its purpose of serving the wearer. It accepts adornment as its essential role. It would not be until later in the 1990s that metal would be featured as furniture, with the work of David Secrest and Tom Joyce.
Garry Knox Bennett - Bronze and Corian
Side Tables
Mark Stanitz - Sterling Silver Box

Mark Stanitz - Oxidized Silver, Gold, Enamel Brooch with Emerald
Bessie Jamieson - Gold Hollow Earrings

Skip Gaynard - Sterling Silver Flatware
Robert Davis - Sterling Silver, Brass and Copper Spoons

Mardi-Jo Cohen - Silver and Colorcore
Cake Knife

Eleni Prieston - Pearl Earrings in 22K Gold; Opal Pendant with Granulated 22K Bezel;
Woven Silver Chain with Granulated 22K Gold Terminals



Pat Flynn - Beakers in Sterling Silver, 18K Gold, Steel and Lead
Tom Muir - Silver Vessel
Judy Kensley McKie - 1989

  Judy Kensley McKie - 1989

Judy McKie continued her investigation of bronze work in her second one-person show at Pritam & Eames. At the time, she was still making wood prototypes for bronze casting. Later, she would switch to signboard as the pattern material for the lost-wax castings. Of the two bronzes she created for the exhibit, the Panther Table was an impressive centerpiece. The two powerful predator forms combine to support its glass top. Each panther looks back over its shoulder while gripping one end of the glass top in its mouth. The other end is supported by the backward arching tails. With this aggressive action, the energy of the sculpture penetrates the glass and makes a direct connection between the top and the base. This connection was a breakthrough for McKie, she says. She designed the Lizard Column as a plant stand. Although a stand, McKie thought that it worked better with greenery around it, rather than on it. As such, it has totemic presence and functions beautifully as a quiet garden sculpture. It was carved in plaster and then cast in bronze. The edition size of the Lizard Column was 20, while the numbered edition of Panther Table was eight. McKie would continue to create numbered bronze editions of well-priced small-scale functional work such as bookshelves, doorknockers, and door pulls in future shows.

There was a second stand in the show, this one in limewood with boldly painted figures of entwined snakes. The strong black lines on the white ground of the stand are dramatic. One of her two standing chests also uses this palette, the White Fish Chest. Here three black lines further emphasize the rigid horizontal and vertical. These lines also provide a framework for the very fluid pattern of fish, and the pattern continues from façade to façade as if we are looking into an aquarium. The second chest, the Black Fish Chest, was constructed and framed in the same manner but here the mobility of the fish pattern is communicated through straight incised lines. The incised lines are white on a black background and it is interesting to compare the darting energy of the black cabinet to the lazy meander of the white one.

The Deer Table was one of the few small dining tables that McKie had shown at the gallery to date. Here the focus is on her ambitiously carved pedestal in darkened walnut and the way in which the glass rests on the ears, horns, and arched necks of the joined quartet of deer.
Judy McKie - Bronze Panther Table

Judy McKie - Walnut Deer Table

Judy McKie -
Lizard and Snake Stand

Judy McKie - Cast Handmade Paper Leopard Triptych

Judy McKie - White Fish Standing Chest

Judy McKie - Limewood Black Fish Chest

Judy McKie - Leopard Chest
Lastly, there is McKie's magnificent Leopard Chest, which appeared in this show slightly ahead of its twin's appearance in the 1989 MFA Boston New American Furniture show. McKie, along with twenty-five other studio furniture artists, had been invited to select a piece from the museum's historical collection and make something that replied to the antique. McKie chose a carved and painted chest made in 1927 by Charles Pendergast. She says that she was especially drawn to the playful, somewhat crude, quality of the Pendergast piece. Critics called Pendergast a "true primitive," and McKie probably would enjoy that description of her own style. The two Leopard Chests that she made stand as the first examples of McKie's experimentation with gold leafing. The leopards are set in bas-relief against a background of deep Pompeiian red and are intertwined with Rousseau-ian vegetation in even deeper tones of red and green. The two cast paper pieces in her P&E show had the same gold leaf/leopard motif as the chests. In fact, the cast paper pieces served as tests for the colors and design that she used on the chests' facades.
Michael Hurwitz - 1989

Michael Hurwitz - 1989

Michael Hurwitz also was invited to be a part of the MFA Boston show New American Furniture later in the year. The piece Hurwitz chose to emulate was Samuel Gragg's bentwood "elastic chair." This is an amazing chair made in Boston in 1808, decades before any of Thonet's revolutionary bentwood work would be seen. Hurwitz's ambition was to make a chaise longue that rocked or, as he called it, a rocking chaise. He wanted the same fluid line from foot to crown that he admired in Gragg's chair. In that chair, the curving line ends in the crown rail. In Hurwitz's rocking chaise, the line at the crown continues to the base of the rocker in one fell swoop so that you can imagine drawing the profile in one unbroken sweep. In this way, the piece comes to a surprising length of 85 inches. Hurwitz made two rocking chaises, one for his show at Pritam & Eames in August, and the other for the Boston MFA show. He would go on to make several more versions of the rocking chaise.

Hurwitz's teacher, Jere Osgood, taught him to think with the eye and to create forms with visual integrity. You can see the connection to this principle in Hurwitz's table work. In this show, a monochrome mahogany tea table and a pair of purpleheart side tables represented the influence of Osgood. The tapered bent laminate work in the tables' stretchers give them strength but also lithe grace made possible by Osgood's teaching of process. In the plant stand, Hurwitz repeats this same stretcher work. Both in the tables and in the plant stand, the lattice-style tops give a nod to Tom Hucker's bid for transparency without glass. There were few tables to come out of the '80s as beautiful as these: they are an ingenious blend of imagination, technical panache, and wonderful utility. If this part of the show could be seen as being about structure, then his three cabinets were about texture.

The tall, floor-standing cabinet in Mexican and East Indian rosewood, and the two small wall hanging cabinets, presented a means for Hurwitz to experiment with texture and color through paint and distressed surfacing, using wood-burning and sand-blasting techniques.

As an aside, Hurwitz became quite ill from the dust of the morado when working on the tall cabinet. He was forced to have someone else finish the piece and then had to clean up his shop while wearing a disposable jumpsuit and respirator. Later he had an additional reaction to the dust of the purpleheart tables, underlining the sometimes hidden threats that the furniture maker faces. The formal properties of his painted pieces were distinctly architectural and one thinks back to his earlier Child Chair and Brandy Vault. Here, again, you can see references to rooflines. The plant stand is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence.
Michael Hurwitz - Mahogany, Milk Paint Chaise Longue on Rockers

Michael Hurwitz - Mahogany Tea Table
Michael Hurwitz - Purpleheart Tables

Michael Hurwitz - Bird's-Eye Maple and Painted Plant Stand, overall and detail
Michael Hurwitz - Painted Wall-Hung Cabinets
Michael Hurwitz - Mexican and East Indian Rosewood Corner Cabinet
    IDCNY - 1989

Patricia Conway, author, teacher, and principal at Kohn, Pederson, Fox & Conway, an influential New York architectural firm, arranged space for Pritam & Eames to exhibit work at the International Design Center in New York (IDCNY) as part of the Center's promotional effort. The exhibit included a new desk by Jere Osgood, a James Schriber dining table, and ceramic and stone dining tables by Bennett Bean. Holloware and glass were also featured.
New Work - 1989

  New Work - 1989
John Dodd, John Dunnigan, David Ebner, Hank Gilpin, Kristina Madsen, Richard Scott Newman, Peter Pierobon, Timothy Philbrick, James Schriber, Spadone-Rieger, Lee Trench, Geoffrey Warner, Stewart Wurtz.

NOTES: The work of Peter Pierobon and Brian Newell, two of the younger makers in this show, would evolve dramatically in the '90s. This was a rare showing of Pierobon's work at P&E.

The pierced carving in the door panels distinguishes Brian Newell's simple, slender, wall-hung cabinet. The restless energy of the pattern recalls the controlled chaos of a Pollock painting. It is this artistic energy that Newell would harness as he continued to produce pieces of stunning virtuosity in later work.

Kristina Madsen's window seat combines two of her interests: its simple arching form has a Shaker spareness that is often part of her work, and the seat provides the canvas for her continued exploration of pattern. The process in this piece involves inlay and fluting and is among the last that she would make before she began to explore Oceanic-inspired carved patterns.

Jamie Robertson's Console with Running Dogs is a wonderful use of unusual materials to create with color. The pale blue of the harewood provides a surreal field for the stretched-out forms of the hounds.

The Reiger-Spadone armoire is an unusual speculative venture because the function of an armoire is incorporated so often into built-in work. Stand-alone storage pieces are rare. Reiger-Spadone invest this armoire with a rich Deco appearance. The emulation of this style by studio furniture makers, which began in the early '80s, was in fact coming to the end of its cycle, although it would remain the decorative focus of Wendy Stayman in the early '90s.
Peter Pierobon - Ebonized Mahogany Totem Clocks

Kristina Madsen - Padauk and Maple Window Seat
Brian Newell - Pearwood and Cocobolo
Wall-Hung Cabinet

Jamie Robertson - Curly Sycamore, Ebony and Aniline Dye Table

Spadone-Rieger - Mahogany, Ebony, Maple and Silver Amoire
Spadone-Rieger - Fumed Oak and
Woven Wool Arm Chair
Commissions - 1989

Richard Scott Newman - Mahogany and Ebony 10-foot Demilune

Bob Hannan - Painted Cherry Child's Bed
    1 9 9 0
Speaking of Furniture:
Conversations with the New American Masters

In anticipation of their 10th anniversary in 1990, Bebe Pritam Johnson and Warren Eames Johnson, PRITAM & EAMES, began a series of interviews with 14 of the artist-craftsmen whose work formed the core of their opening exhibit in 1981. This series of conversations was intended to record in the makers' voices why they do what they do and, along the way, to provide a glimpse into the development of the studio furniture movement. Gradually, the idea evolved into plans for a book that included the interviews, original photography, as well as essays written especially for the book. In 1991, PRITAM & EAMES approached their long-time client, Peter Joseph, to help publish the book. He agreed to publish the book as long as he could participate as co-editor in the production. The three shared editing responsibility for the manuscripts. Although the book was never published, and the manuscript remains largely unread, the interviews provide insight into the thinking of a remarkable group of artist-craftsmen who tell their stories in candid, personal ways.
James Krenov
Wendell Castle
Jere Osgood
Judy Kensley McKie
David Ebner
Richard Scott Newman
Hank Gilpin
Alphonse Mattia
John Dunnigan
Wendy Maruyama
James Schriber
Timothy Philbrick
Michael Hurwitz
Thomas Hucker
Speaking of Furniture:
Conversations with the New American Masters

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements
Introduction: Defining the Field, Edward S. Cooke, Jr.
Prologue: Bebe Pritam Johnson and Warren Eames Johnson

The Chair Within the Chair With "In the Chair", Joan Retallack

In conversation with:
James Krenov
Wendell Castle
Jere Osgood
Judy Kensley McKie
David Ebner
Richard Scott Newman
Hank Gilpin
Alphonse Mattia
John Dunnigan
Wendy Maruyama
James Schriber
Timothy S. Philbrick
Michael Hurwitz
Thomas Hucker

A Few Thoughts from a Much Less Accomplished Woodworker, Roger Holmes
Meaning of Furniture/Furniture as Meaning, Rose Slivka
Museums and the Issue of Function in Contemporary Studio Furniture, Edward S. Cooke, Jr.
What's Next, Rosanne Somerson
Epilogue: Peter T. Joseph

Selected Bibliography
Photo Credits

Early Spring Show - 1990

Early Spring Show 1990
Dale Broholm, David Ebner, Hank Gilpin, George Gordon, Robert Hannan, Thomas Hucker, Don Krawczyk, Wendy Maruyama, Peter Pierobon, James Schriber, Jeremy Singley, Lee Trench, Stephen Turino, Bruce Volz, William Walker, Geoff Warner, Jonathan Wright, Rick Wrigley.

NOTES: This show includes a large cabinet by Hank Gilpin, a furniture form that he would repeat in various woods. This one has 30 panels and is made of curly maple with yew-wood pulls. Its companion blanket chest shows how flexible the style of the cabinet could be as it is brought into a fresh design for a lidded 16-panel chest.

Included in the show was another of Jonathan Wright's ingenious dining room extension tables and stand. This time the familiar design was in mahogany and sycamore, rather than bubinga and maple. The announcement card shows how the extension table works.

The exuberance of Wendy Maruyama's tall cabinet is, no doubt, due to her rich use of color. But the piece also stands as if on tippy-toes, a feature she used in her 1984 jewelry cabinet. The strong colors here are further dramatized by the use of black in the field as well as in the legs. An Eastern note is given by the door panels, constructed as if from latticework of bamboo staves. It makes one think of a richly colored parrot in a rain forest.

Work by Bob Hannan with playful Colorcore graphics used distorted perspective for added whimsy. In the Cloud Cabinet, this is done on the curve and one gets the feeling that the wind blowing the clouds might also be bending the cabinet.

The pair of tables by Dale Broholm had a rooted, architectural weight-bearing style and are suitably topped with black granite. This style is a far cry from his edgy use of color in Broholm's student days.

George Gordon repeats his elegant bench form, this time in cherry, giving it a lighter feel with fabric instead of woven leather upholstery. It will stand as the most fluid of Gordon's forms.

The rocker by Jeremy Singley filled an important niche opened when Robert Whitley ceased making editions of his rocker. The spoke shaved hickory back spindles are formed individually with heat and moisture, giving the chair an open, ribcage-like holding form for relaxation. The nicely formed seat keeps the light feeling of the back by diminishing its thickness at the edges. The runners are not overly long, making this rocker easily placeable. The chair sold well for several years.

Don Krawczyk's hutch continues in his folksy style, while his pair of wenge tables changes the tune with their zigzag drama.

A delightful surprise comes from Spadone-Reiger -- the Domino Chairs are one of the few pieces of children's furniture to come to the gallery.

Peter Pierobon rarely exhibited at Pritam & Eames, but had several entries such as this lamp during his period of working with ebonized mahogany.

Rick Wrigley's four-poster bed is a mixed metaphor that would seem unlikely to succeed. On the one hand, the fluted, finial-capped columns are classically referenced, while the imposingly vertical headboard displays sumptuous veneer in a strict, contemporary grid of rectangles. The tall verticals of the headboard are sectioned by trim into narrow forms that complement and seem at home with the four posts. Wrigley continues his consummate touch of elegant detailing, which still has a modern and not overly fussy feel.
Hank Gilpin - Curly Maple and Yew Cabinet

Hank Gilpin - Curly Maple Blanket Chest

Wendy Maruyama - Carved and Polychromed Tall Cabinet

Robert Hannan - Yellow Pine, Colorcore, Ebony Cloud Cabinet

Dale Broholm - Mahogany, Satinwood, Ebony and Black Andes Granite Pair of Tables

George Gordon - Cherry Uphostered Bench

Jeremy Singley - Walnut and Hickory Rocker

Spadone/Rieger - Domino Chairs

Don Krawczyk - Wenge Side Tables

Peter Pierobon - Ebonized Mahogany Torchere
Rick Wrigley - Mahogany, Pomele Sapele, Fiddleback Makore,
Curly Maple and Pearwood Bed
Furniture by Jere Osgood - 1990

Furniture by Jere Osgood

NOTES: After the success of the aerodynamic writing tables and his sweeping rosewood carcase desk, Jere Osgood produced his ebony and lacewood desk, his most elaborate shell work to date and perhaps of his career. The scalloped doors are joined into a domed top -- all shell construction -- and rotate horizontally to enclose the workspace. In shell construction, the individual parts of the form are made from gluing thin layers together and pressing them in a curved form. The engineering of the door section is an amazing technical accomplishment, since the doors have to pivot and recede to the back to reveal the crescent working surface.

Osgood has said, "I am not a sculptor; however, my concerns are similar. What I am after in these big pieces, such as the ebony and lacewood desk, is to create both a reasonable work area and, at the same time, a sculptural form that is interesting in all four directions when viewed, say, from 20 feet. The straight top view is as important as the front, back, and side views as I envision the desk in a library and, possibly, viewable from above. By the same token, I am concerned that the piece maintain its visual interest and fluency from close up. For example, I'm satisfied with the way the undercut drawers came out, something you notice only when you are seated at the desk."

The library ladder in this show resulted from a client request. This is a case where a commission prompts a classic form from Osgood, a successful stand-alone sculptural form. This piece ended up being used as a valet. Its design as a library ladder starts from a base so rooted that the user feels secure. But this same rootedness gives the piece an organic focus that is a pleasure to see. The grounded strength of the form derives from the forked join of the tapered laminated legs into the flowing stem. By toeing the form inward at the first step, Osgood achieves a spreading upward flow to the top rail.

The oval oak dining table is not a piece that attempts to break any boundaries, but stays with clear Osgoodian form. It was purchased as a desk/conference table and served well in that capacity.
Jere Osgood - Australian Lacewood, Macassar Ebony, Ash, Pearwood, Leather Desk

Jere Osgood - Curly Maple Library Ladder

Jere Osgood - Ash, Leather Pedestal Desk

Jere Osgood - White Oak Oval Dining Table
American Work in Metal - 1990

  American Work in Metal - 1990 Holloware/Jewelry/Flatware
Michael and Maureen Banner, Jonathan Bonner, Ken Carlson, Mardi-Jo Cohen, Colette, Charles Crowley, Jaclyn Davidson, Robert Davis, Vicki Eisenfeld, Pat Flynn, Skip Gaynard, Robly Glover, Carrie Harper, Bessie Jamieson/Robert Kulicke, Marvin Jensen, Jim Kelso, Deborah Krupenia, Curtis LaFollette, Thomas Markusen, John Marshall, Tom Muir, Jacqueline Myers, Robyn Nichols, Tom Odell, Gene Michael Pijanowski, Hiroko Sato Pijanowski, Eleni Prieston, Janet Prip, Vernon Reed, Michel Royston, Jafar Shoja, Nancy Slagle, Mark Stanitz, Leonard Urso.

NOTES: The scope of this decade's last featured show in metal broadened to include sculpture. Some academic metalsmiths, including John Marshall and Len Urso, were challenged to push the plasticity/malleability of their material. You could find this same exploration of plasticity in Michael and Maureen Banner's teapot handles that were drawn or "pulled" as though made of clay; Robyn Nichol's wispy tendrilled utensil handles, and Leonard Urso's flowing forms. Urso raised his Giacometti-like figures from sterling silver sheets by a process of repousse. He produced similar miniature repousse wearable objects in his line of high karat jewelry.

Eleni Prieston, who works in 22K gold, produces formal yet casual jewelry. The permanence of 22K gold connotes formality while the use of organically shaped precious stones, like boulder opal and natural pearl, ensure an approachable quality. Gold is wrapped around a natural oyster pearl by finger pressure, enhancing its irregularity rather than attempting to formalize it. Her chains are woven by hand, with little reliance on steel tools.

Jim Kelso comes from the quiet, highly technical discipline of centuries-old Japanese knife-making techniques. One can feel the texture in his work simply by looking at it. His Damascus steel blades, their handles inlaid with precious stones and mokume-gane, are embellished with insects or foliage. These ceremonial objects display a respectful reverence for beauty and purpose.
Jonathan Bonner - Copper, Oil Paint "Reptiles" Vessel
Jonathan Bonner - Copper Acrylic
"House Cat"

John Marshall

Michael and Maureen Banner - Silver
Double-Handled Teapot
Robyn Nichols - Silver Sea Grape Spoons and
Calla Lily Butter Knife

Charles Crowley - Brass, Aluminum, Gold Leaf Vessel
Leonard Urso -
Silver Sculpture
Jim Kelso - Wenge, Ebony, Gold Spider Tonkatsu; Silver, enameled Gold Ojime; Mammoth Ivory, Silver, Gold Netsuke
on Silk Cord
Jim Kelso - Knife and Scabbard
Sitting Pretty - 1990

Sitting Pretty
An Exhibition of Original Seating
David Ebner, George Gordon, Kristina Madsen, Tim Philbrick, James Schriber, Rosanne Somerson, Peter Spadone, Wendy Stayman, Geoff Warner.

NOTES: The gallery always welcomes superior upholstered work. Because the chair is frequently acknowledged as the most difficult furniture form to make, chairs from the field generally cannot be competitive in price or production value to those commercially produced. Even if jigged up for a run of twelve or more, the studio furniture maker cannot lessen either the amount of handwork involved in producing a chair nor the huge investment in jigs, patterns, and forms. More often than not, the gallery asked clients to consider a chair as a single piece of furniture. A single chair may require the same work as a dining table, but clients find it impossible that the two could be comparable in value. Even with that said, there are few studio furniture practitioners who succeed in meeting all of the demands of making a really fine chair.

In the case of Tim Philbrick's fully upholstered easy chair, it is the flowing line of the pearwood that tailors the upholstered form while continuously exposing the wood. The woodworking, as well as the silk upholstery, makes this chair a labor-intensive piece. The successful outcome, though, is a chair that combines both comfort and elegant form. This chair more than any other in the show demonstrated a sophisticated chairmaker's discipline in its construction and detailing.

Wendy Stayman's chair made a point of contrasting the use of wood in its front leg and arm to the rest of the chair's form, which was completely covered in fabric including the underneath of the rear foot. As such, it was a design statement but it did not have the complexity of Philbrick's flowing form. This chair would reappear in her '91 featured show.
Rosanne Somerson - Tall Chair

Kristina Madsen - Bird's Nest Chair

David Ebner - Twisted Stick Chair

David Ebner - Bellport Chairs

Rosanne Somerson's pair of striking tall chairs provided a good tableau for her artful embellishments. The crest rail carries her signature medallion.

Kristina Madsen was represented in this show by her bird's nest chair, a piece she had made for an earlier Workbench show based on furniture in masterpiece paintings.

James Schriber submitted two tall chairs as simply made as they were enjoyably casual in appeal. Designed for counter-height seating, their informal attitude derived from milk-painted colors in combination with pearwood arm pieces and stretchers. This chair would reappear in the future in several subsequent versions.

David Ebner's Stick Chair, more sculptural than sit-able, extends his use of twisted stick material to a new form. As mentioned earlier, he was inspired by Wharton Esherick's credo to make objects from things you could find in your backyard. The honeysuckle-choked sassafras saplings were what he found along the Long Island Railroad's right-of-way. His painted mahogany Bellport outdoor furniture series was one of the most seriously researched works to come out of the studio furniture field. Stylistically, its roots were in the 19th-century English Luton lawn furniture, while its painted finish combined the best of contemporary durable spray painting and the natural weather-resistance of mahogany.
The Furniture Art of JOHN DUNNIGAN - 1990

The Furniture Art of John Dunnigan

NOTES: John Dunnigan's asymmetrical settee, the announcement piece for his second featured show at P&E, introduced perhaps his most memorable upholstered work. Its companion was an asymmetrical easy chair. The front leg to arm and front stretcher design is familiar from his earlier settees. However, the asymmetrical overlapping of the two back crests sets in motion a progression: the large crest overlaps the lower crest, which in turn leads to a lower arm and a more accelerated front curve. The impression is of a piece in balance, a sophisticated design achievement.

In the exhibition, the settee and arm chair were separated by a bubinga sideboard with a marble top. The rakishly thin front legs ascended in four tiered steps that complemented the four-tiered drawer structure of the carcase.

Although the asymmetrical works were the most demanding and accomplished upholstered pieces, Dunnigan's less complex but familiar conversation chairs were still crowd pleasers. With their low back and arms that spread outward as they project forward, these chairs are inviting and appear much larger and more ample because of the perspective that Dunnigan seduces from the form. In this show, Dunnigan created a trio of these chairs with a crown that might be described as sickle-shaped. The middle chair in this trio has a crown that slopes symmetrically, whereas on the two outer chairs the sickle tilts downward to the outside. As it happened, one client bought the two outside chairs, and another bought the middle chair. The legs on the conversation chair also evolved during the '80s from a simple four-sided saber to an eight-faceted modified saber that looks like it twists outward. The serviceability of this chair goes to the heart of its popularity -- while it looks ample and inviting, the chair is quite portable and can be pulled up for occasional seating.

A pair of side tables, one with a marble top, completed the show.
John Dunnigan - "Metope" Table, Asymmetrical Arm Chair; Bubinga and Marble Sideboard

John Dunnigan - Pearwood and Marble Pleated Table

John Dunnigan - Upholstered Cherry Conversation Chairs
Gifted - 1990  

Gifted - 1991
John Eric Byers, William Crozier, Mark Del Guidice, David Ebner, Robert Hannan, Thomas Hucker, Stephen Pemberton, James Plukas, Ron Puckett, Miranda Russell, Jeremy Singley, Wendy Stayman, Steven Turino, Bruce Volz.

NOTES: Wendy Stayman's blanket chest featured on the invitation is a good example of her combination of crisp architectural style, here based on a strict grid, with almost-fussy classical detailing. The base uses delicate half-round edging (much like upholstered piping) to set off a ribbon-inspired form that forces the eye to the centered medallion pull. Here the choice of highly polished metal, shaped in an utterly simple disc form, gives the grid a forceful focus.

John Eric Byer's Oh Boy Chest of Drawers joins a playful cartoon shape with interesting faux-coopered sides. Verdigris copper rivets set up the decorative finishing touch. This was the first appearance of Byer's work at the gallery.

Behind the Byers' piece, was another of Tom Hucker's floating highboys, the first of which he had made for the 1989 MFA Boston exhibit. This piece continued his study of floating volumes and buoyant masses. Its shield back is reminiscent of his 1985 chair. The take-off point for the piece was a William & Mary highboy in the MFA Boston collection. The startling contrast of the black lacquer back and the elegantly veneered bowed front contributed to its unusual impact. It would become one of the two most widely collected pieces of his work, the other being his bronze and wood low table series.

Kristina Madsen's simple, elegant side chair was one of the highlights of this show. A direct descendant of her piece in the 1989 MFA Boston exhibit, this chair differs in the seat back. Both backs are handsome ovals that expand out of the extensions of the curving rear legs. In the MFA piece, the oval is on one plane with negative space highlighting the fabric and fan-shaped back splat. In this chair, the oval curves inward towards the spine of the back. And there is no negative space. Here the hand-stitched piping delineates the shape of the fan. Madsen admits that the compound shaping of this chair's oval was a real challenge.

Steve Turino's Australian lacewood
and ebony bed and bedside chests provided a major entry. The diamonds foremost in the footboard are an aggressive element capped off by the crest forms on the right and left. These crests re-appear in the imposing headboard. You can easily see Greek helmets behind this design.

Although a small piece, the table lamp by Mark Del Guidice was welcome because of its fresh use of materials and simple construction. It combines phenolic linen and fiberglass with a well-chosen wood palette.

John Eric Byers - Ebonized Oak, Mahogany and Copper Rivets "Oh Boy"
Behind: Tom Hucker - Ebonized Maple, Mahogany Floating Highboy

Kam Ghaffari - Dyed and Bleached Maple and Steel Folio Tables
Kristina Madsen - Maple and Silk Side Chairs

Steven Turino - Australian Lacewood, Macassar Ebony Bed and Cabinet

Stephen Whitney - Jewel Box

Stephen Whitney - Hall Table
Mark Del Guidice -
Table Lamp

David Ebner - Brazilian Mahogany Music Stand

James Schriber - Cherry, Milk Paint Tall Chairs

Ron Puckett - French Walnut, Wenge and Marble Sideboard
Commissions - 1990    
Jere Osgood - Ash and Leather Laminated Chair

James Schriber - Maple and Ebony Conference Table, Executive Desk

Lee Trench - Carved Cherry and Copper
Twin Bed
Timothy Philbrick - Pair of Maple Console Tables for Midtown New York Bank
    1 9 9 1
James Krenov & Friends - 1991

James Krenov & Friends
Jim Budlong, Tim Coleman, Ross Day, David Finck, Paul Harrell, James Krenov, Tim Morrow, Brian Newell, Zivko Radenkov, Gary Venable, Bill Walker.

NOTES: This show demonstrates the strength of furniture making in northern California, as fostered by Jim Krenov at the College of the Redwoods in Fort Bragg. Although there had been an uninterrupted flow of Krenov cabinets to the gallery since 1983, he wanted more exposure for the school, to which he was devoting considerable energy. In Tony Chastain-Chapman's article "Fine Furnituremaking" for American Craft Magazine, (Dec 84/Jan 85, p.10-17) in which he evaluated American galleries showing studio furniture, he remarked that Pritam & Eames was an "escape hatch for Krenovians." It was no surprise, therefore, that Krenov would approach P&E to host a show of work by his students and to celebrate his 10th year of teaching at the College of the Redwoods. This show also coincided with the gallery's 10th-year celebration.

Krenov himself had three new cabinets in the exhibit, as well as four older pieces that the gallery borrowed for the show. Ordinarily, paint and Krenov are not two terms you would mix together. However, he had a favored green paint left over from some projects in Sweden and decided to paint the interior of his simple wall-hung maple cabinet. You can say that this piece represented Krenov's philosophy boiled down to its essence: a simple presentation in a chosen wood with two doors that open to disclose quiet space for a few personally chosen objects.

His other two cabinets displayed more complex designs. The taller of the two, in doussie and maple, was surely one of his most polished statements of the cabinet-on-stand. This piece has a number of forerunners, and whatever it may lack in surprise or innovative flourish, it makes up for in perfected form.

The other cabinet in English beech and yaca-wood was reminiscent of the mahogany/yaca-wood piece that came to the gallery in 1983 and, later, the pearwood/Brazillian rosewood cabinet in 1990. In the current English beech cabinet, as well as the 1990 one, the legs end in the stand rather than continuing as corner stiles. The facade's only remarkable feature are two carved and inlaid door pulls that give the cabinet its mystery and spirit.

Under the umbrella of friends, a number of makers submitted work to this show. Each piece reflected remarkable individual effort and consummate skill.

Among the larger pieces was Paul Harrell's superb hall table in a creamy bubinga framed by Honduras mahogany. Its two shallow drawers make this an eminently usable hall table.

Tim Coleman had been working for Bill Walker in Seattle before coming to the College of the Redwoods to study with Krenov. His white oak and maple cabinet follows in the small cabinet genre favored by his teacher. In this piece Coleman enclosed the upper and lower sections, something that Krenov only rarely did. Whereas Krenov had used flared door panels, Coleman repeated the concave feature in fluted door panels. The two lower doors are fluted on a larger scale, though this time each flute was formed initially as a separate concave section. The resulting neoclassical reference is certainly non-Krenovian.

The diamond veneer grid on its curved door defines Tim Morrow's beautiful waist-high European pearwood cabinet simply, but exquisitely. Here the key is used as the door pull, a sufficient, although not entirely successful, solution.

The show also hosted the work of three previous graduates of the College of the Redwoods: Bill Walker, Zivko Radenov, and Brian Newell. The gallery had shown work of Bill Walker and Zivko Radenkov since 1983 and 1984 respectively. Brian Newell's first piece at the gallery was his small, wall-hung cabinet in 1989. The body of work by these three makers would constitute an enduring legacy for the Krenov school as well as for Pritam & Eames.

Although Zivko Radenkov's output was slender, with only eight pieces appearing at the gallery from 1983 to 1997, his work was remarkable for its gentle nature and refined floral marquetry. The Dogwood Cabinet that appears in this show took up a theme that re-appears in Radenkov cabinets, a glimpse of nature rendered in marquetry and framed by a grid as if seen through a window. Here, dogwood branches are in blossom. The marquetry branches continue around the side of the cabinet.

Brian Newell's tall showcase cabinet in pau ferro and pearwood is composed of two floor-to-top doors, consisting of three long vertical panes of antique glass that are joined with impossibly narrow leading. The arched tops of the two doors lead into a pierced carved pearwood panel. Newell was certainly inspired and nurtured by Krenov, but it is difficult to trace the teacher's influence in this piece. Frequently a Newell piece would follow the small cabinet format of his mentor, but particularly after 2000, his work took a broad departure. His six-legged cabinet, done for the gallery's 20th anniversary show in 2001, caused many, for the first time, to recognize him as a major force in the field.

Bill Walker is represented in this show by two low circular tables with a taut, bow-like structure that gives tension to these comfortable, contemporary pieces. His one-person show would come later in the summer.

James Krenov - Doussie and Maple Cabinet
James Krenov & Friends at Pritam & Eames

Jim Budlong - Rosewood and Yew-wood
Jewelry Box

James Krenov - Detail of Pearwood, Brazilian Rosewood and Mahogany Cabinet

James Krenov - Painted Maple Cabinet

Zivko Radenkov - Elm, Satinwood, Pink Ivory, Holly, Teak and Ebony Cabinet

Paul Harrell - Bubinga Hall Table
Bill Walker - Cherry Dining Chairs

Tim Coleman - White Oak and Maple
Fluted Cabinet
Tim Morrow - Pearwood and Spanish Cedar Cabinet

Gary Venable - Maple Silver Chest
Marie Hoepfl - Doussie, Satinwood and Elm
Writing Desk and Chair

Brian Newell - Pau Ferro and Pearwood
Tall Cabinet
Bebe Pritam Johnson and James Krenov

The show also included three smaller pieces: a lantern by David Finck, an exquisite English hornbeam writing box by Nicholas Goulden, and, most notably, a Brazilian rosewood and western yew-wood tabletop jewelry cabinet by Jim Budlong. How does one put two such woods together? The yew-wood brings out the undertone of the rosewood perfectly, but also provides quieter figure to frame the wilder rosewood. It is a low and flat case piece supported by four yew-wood legs.

American Work in Metal - 1991

American Work in Metal
Michael and Maureen Banner, Jonathan Bonner, Ken Carlson, Mardi-Jo Cohen, Colette, Jaclyn Davidson, Robert Davis, Vicki Eisenfeld, Peggy Eng, Pat Flynn, Skip Gaynard, Robly Glover, Carrie Harper and Tim McClelland, Bessie Jamieson and Robert Kulicke, Marvin Jensen, Judith Kaufman, Jim Kelso, Deborah Krupenia, Curtis LaFollette, Thomas Markusen, Kurt Matzdorf, Mark Williams Morgan, Tom Muir, Jacqueline Myers, Robyn Nichols, Tom Odell, Eleni Prieston, Janet Prip, Vernon Reed, Michel Royston, Jafar Shoja, Nancy Slagle, Mark Stanitz, Leonard Urso.

NOTES: Vicki Eisenfeld's necklace is a masterfully interwoven combination of gold and silver wires and married metals embellished with precious stones. A burst of forms and shapes explodes into a wearable statement. Eisenfeld paints with metal, whereas Mark Stanitz has incorporated miniature paintings in his brooches. Stanitz leaves the three-dimensional world behind with his miniature paintings.
This show was not without humor, as illustrated by Jonathan Bonner's sailfish weathervane, Jaclyn Davidson's bizarre use of a prone figure bearing a container, Nancy Slagle's expertly fabricated cartoonish silver Teapot Fitzgerald, and Tim McClelland's meticulously rendered gold and diamond bulldog ring. Tim McClelland collaborated with his wife, Carrie Harper, on a folding child's spoon which, when open, becomes a children's slide complete with figures. Janet Prip's bronze figurative candlesticks evoke the Josephine Baker spirit of the '30s.
Mark Stanitz - Silver Containers

Mark Stanitz - Gold, Silver, Oil Paint Brooches
Tim McClelland -
Gold, Brown Diamonds
Bulldog Ring

Jonathan Bonner - Copper Granite Sailfish Weather Vane
Nancy Slagle - Silver "Teapot Fitzgerald"
Carrie Harper and Tim McClelland -
Silver Baby Spoon with Folding
Feeding Handle

Jaclyn Davidson - Containers: (Left) Sterling Silver, 24K Gold Foil, Fossil Ivory;
(Right) Sterling Silver, 24K Gold Foil, Basse-Taille Enameling

Mark Williams Morgan - Vessel
Janet Prip - Cast and Fabricated Bronze
Figurative Candlesticks

Janet Prip - Pewter and Gold Leaf Double Bowl
10 x 16: 10th Anniversary - 1991

10 x 16: 10th Anniversary - 1991
Bruce Beeken, Wendell Castle, John Dunnigan, David Ebner, Hank Gilpin, Tom Hucker, Michael Hurwitz, Bill Keyser, Judy Kensley McKie, Wendy Maruyama, Alphonse Mattia, Richard Scott Newman, Jere Osgood, Tim Philbrick, James Schriber, Rosanne Somerson.

NOTES: The ten-year marking point is always a key reference for a small business and, for a gallery, it provides a good occasion for a special exhibition and party. The title itself refers to the anniversary and the reunion of sixteen makers from the gallery's first year. the gallery also borrowed a number of pieces made ten years ago by these makers.

Taking the work in alphabetical order by maker, Bruce Beeken and Jeff Parsons exhibited a child's bed made in goncalo alves and maple. Beeken formed a partnership with fellow PIA alumnus Jeff Parsons in the early 1980s. Together their goal was to develop a version of studio furniture that would be centered in Vermont and of Vermont. Situated somewhere between contract and studio furniture, they would use local hardwoods to build pieces for Vermont schools, libraries, and churches. Although Beeken-Parsons did little speculative work, the child's bed certainly has the bravura of a piece made for gallery exhibition. The silk cord web that supports the futon-style mattress is an interesting feature. The functional decorative tassels indicate the points at which the cording is fastened to the frame.

Wendell Castle sent a walnut and Carpathian elm burl game table and four chairs to the gallery's opening show --vintage Castle work of the '70s. Ten years later, his game table and four chairs combined bronze and wood in a mixed style. Castle had exhibited at P&E during the '80s largely through the courtesy of the Alexander Milliken Gallery in New York. By May 1991, however, the Peter Joseph Gallery represented this work.

John Dunnigan's asymmetrical pearwood easy chair, with a fabric design by Wendy Wahl, is another version of the design he introduced in his featured show the year before. Here it was shown with a small pearwood tray table.

David Ebner was represented by three of his well-known seating pieces: the Renwick Stool, Wishbone Rocker, and Biedermeier Chair.

Hank Gilpin's piece for the 1989 Boston MFA show was a standing cabinet much like a wardrobe. That piece was the progenitor for a series that came out of his shop in the early '90s. The one made for P&E's anniversary show is in curly red oak with wenge handles. The rhythm and proportion of the panels, which stand just proud of their framing, define the character of the cabinet. The boards that Gilpin used in these various chests determined their final dimensions. The same corner-angled leg that appeared in his chests of drawers throughout the '80s was also used here. Sometimes function can lead unselfconsciously to sculpture. Such was the case with Gilpin's four-legged stool in curly maple. Gilpin also presented one of his well-received seven-drawer small chests, in blistered white oak. The bleached elm Ghost Bench was made in part to remind his colleagues that studio furniture could be simple and need not involve complex process.

Tom Hucker's Scent Table is another conceptually inspired piece. Instead of his usual considerations of light versus heavy, transparency versus density, here it is country versus city, and scent versus structure. This sitka spruce table certainly has references to the aesthetic of Japanese carpentry and screen making. Here, once again, Hucker created a top that is transparent but has no glass. The Scent Table name derives from the dried rose petals strewn on the floor of the box, whose scent might waft through the grid of the top.

Michael Hurwitz's bench represented a continuation of a design that evolved in the mid-'80s. Its slender members have the taut energy of a flexed bow. To create rigidity, he made the necessary triangulation with bent stretchers. Those that formed vertically have the sense of natural branching, a feature he used in past table designs. The vertical posts that support the seat in its middle stand metaphorically for a small group of trees. The effect of the design is at once restraint and tension. This has to be one of the most beautiful benches to come out of studio furniture.

Bill Keyser was represented by a wenge and ash music stand that first appeared in the gallery in the mid '80s.

Judy McKie's bronze Beast Bench was her first new piece after not having worked for almost two years due to the tragic loss of her son. It strikes a deep resonance within us even as we are taking in a form that is strange and unknown. Its spirit is ambivalent, even primitive. The emergent nature of the beast is implied by form rather than expressed by detail. The solidity of the legs and the contained form of the trunk comes to a focus in the horizontal attack of the neck and head. It is an enigmatic piece and one of her strongest.

Wendy Maruyama's ample blanket chest achieved its drama through the use of color on the black field of the front panels. The green leaves are depicted as if in free fall. They are vivid through their color and the incised detailing that cuts through the black panels to reveal the whiteness of the underlying wood. The panels have a three-dimensional effect because of the perspective implied by the scale of the individual leaves.

Alphonse Mattia was represented by another in his evolved series of valets, this one entitled Knothead. The metaphor used here is a reply to a valet: we can see a hanger and the twisted top before the hook. The whimsy of the piece puts in the background Mattia's technically sophisticated use of craft to attain this form.

Richard Scott Newman's chair was also one of an on-going family of chairs begun in the early '80s. The different angles needed by the back stiles and the rear legs achieve their transition through elements turned from two axes. This allowed the classically recognized use of corner blocks in the seating frame. The lower corner blocks in the front allow the upholstery to extend across the front of the chair. This results in a more comfortable look than the austerity of his earlier chairs. As there was no use of ormolu in the chair, the feet and finials are ebony rather than gold. For comparison, see his chair in 1982.

The beautiful lines of Jere Osgood's walnut and leather side chair had been evolving since the '60s. Typical of these chairs is the side stretcher that diverges from the seat apron as it progresses toward the front, a feature that nicely defines triangulation and provides the necessary support for the front legs. The most unusual feature of the chair is the two stretchers that descend from the crown rail to the rear legs. As they split towards the legs, they serve as a back splat. But that they continue downward below the seat to be jointed into the lower portion of the rear legs is an Osgood device. For a dining chair seen mostly from the rear, these flowing lines recall his stand up desks and lecterns.

Timothy Philbrick exhibited a Pier Table in Cuban and quilted Honduras mahogany. His 1981 Pier Table was in East Indian rosewood. The bottom line of the apron in the 1991 piece still reflects the swag or weighted fabric hang of the earlier piece. There is more movement in the legs of the newer table, however, and the two sides tuck in toward the front in an S-curve. It is sometimes said that if you use the S-curve, you're borrowing too heavily from the past. However, the simple curves of most contemporary design have more to do with production values than borrowed aesthetics. Whatever the outcome of the discussion, this Philbrick table looks fresh.

James Schriber was represented by one of his Pencil Post Beds first seen in the gallery in his 1986 show with Ron Puckett. This bed, along with his 1981 rosewood bed, was the announcement piece for 10 x 16. Their only common feature is the fan-like adornment that appears on the headboards.

Rosanne Somerson's Jewelry Vanity in pau ferro and bleached leopardwood, pearwood, hand painted paper, mother-of-pearl, and a mirror, continues her work in wall-hung jewelry cabinets. The long narrow case is divided at mid-section by a sliver moon-shaped shelf whose front is decorated with mother-of pearl. Their shimmer is reflected in the seven leopardwood drawer fronts below. In front of the mirror on the shelf is a turned pearwood cup to hold earrings, another Somerson trademark.

At the time of the gallery's 10th anniversary, many of those associated with Pritam & Eames entered the new decade with an understandable optimism based on their accomplishments of the 1980s. It is tempting to look at the anniversary show as a summing up of this energy.

Bruce Beeken - Goncalo Alves and Maple Child's Bed

Wendell Castle - Bubinga, Satinwood, Mahogany, Bronze, Brass, Upholstery
Game Table and Four Chairs

John Dunnigan - Pearwood Tray Table and Asymmetrical Chair

David Ebner - Curly Maple and Leather Chair
Gilpin - Curly Maple Stool
Hank Gilpin - Curly Red Oak and Wenge Cabinet

Hank Gilpin - Bleached Elm Ghost Bench

Thomas Hucker - Sitka Spruce Scent Table

Michael Hurwitz - Bubinga and Leather Bench
Silas Kopf -
Ash, Marquetry Woods Cabinet with Clock

Wendy Maruyama - Poplar and Paint Blanket Chest
Alphonse Mattia - Maple Lacquer "Knothead" Valet

Judy Kensley McKie - Bronze Beast Bench

Richard Scott Newman - Cherry and Ebony Chair

Jere Osgood - Walnut and Leather Chair
Timothy Philbrick - Cuban and Quilted Mahogany Pier Table

Rosanne Somerson - Pau Ferro, Bleached Leopard Wood, Bleached Lacewoood, Pearwood, Handpainted Paper, Mother-of-Pearl, Mirror Jewelry Vanity

10th Anniversary Celebration
Jere Osgood and Tom Hucker

Judy McKie and Tim Philbrick

Alphonse Mattia, John Dunnigan, James Schriber, and Jere Osgood

Artists and clients celebrate 10 years with Pritam & Eames.

Photography Credits:

Gil Amiaga, Roger Birn, David Caras, Rameshwar Das, Jody Dole, Chris Eden,
Garry Geer, Jon Jensen, Warren Johnson, John Kane, Bruce Miller, Ric Murray,
Northlight Studios, Dean Powell, David Ryan, Steven Sloman, Jamey Stillings

    Although the 10 x 16 survey had more depth than most group shows, it is impressive how many pieces reflected past designs rather than a testing of new boundaries. Does this signal that the 1990s will be less experimental? Or was this simply a timely celebration of hard-won, personally evolved and, by now, maturely nuanced bodies of work? Or would this mature polish restrict innovation?

End of the Decade

At the time of the gallery's opening in 1981, we said that makers like George Nakashima, Wendell Castle, Bill Keyser, Jere Osgood, Alphonse Mattia, and Judy McKie had well developed, identifable styles and public recognition. Other makers had yet to find their signatures, and there was a great deal of energy in motion. For furniture makers like John Dunnigan, Hank Gilpin, Michael Hurwitz, Wendy Maruyama, Richard Newman, Tim Philbrick, Bill Walker, and James Schriber, the eighties was the decade when they made their mark. Out of this second group, only Gilpin's and Philbrick's work from the opening show seems immediately familiar today. By the time of the 1989 Boston MFA New American Furniture exhibit, work by this last group had evolved into individually recognizable styles. It was during the '80s that a maturation of ideas and a deepening of personal identities was taking place. And while this may not, in itself, appear to the casual observor as experimental, it was, nevertheless, a time when artistic and personal challenges were being probed and met. In an attempt to extract emerging patterns from this decade, the first observation is that studio furniture is often reviewed according to decade, and the gallery's first ten years coincides neatly with this concept. However, it does well to bear in mind that individual paths are never this neat or linear.

We also said that a broader notion of style can be tied to process which, in turn, can be tied to what was being taught at the different academic centers. In looking back, the programs at RIT, PIA, and RISD, had evolved curricula that offered an historically unprecedented variety of processes: carving, shaping, coopering, laminating, tapered laminating, bending by form or steam, as well as training in traditional hand skills and 20th-century machine skills. The possibilities for form seemed endless. But this freedom could also could leave the maker rudderless. The virtue of a strong approach like Krenov's -- to keep the focus on the integrity of the material -- was that it simplified.

Although the PIA graduates seem to be the most consistently visible group on the gallery's roster, P&E's growth was also greatly influenced by those coming from other paths. RIT did not project the same cohesive image that the Program in Artisanry established for itself in the mid-1970s. However, the influential teachers in the Rochester area offered a provocative program. Wendell Castle, who taught at RIT in the 1960s, remained an important background influence in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as a source of some employment to those coming through RIT. Bill Keyser, who began teaching at RIT in 1961 and continued there for 30 years, offered a challenging program of instruction that included a variety of furniture building approaches, in addition to his own experimental work with hollow cores and vacuum veneering. Both Castle and Keyser brought the possibilities of sculptural form to studio furniture, and Rochester must have been a stimulating environment for students like Jon Brooks, Howard Werner, Richard Newman, Rick Wrigley, Rich Tannen, Ben Mack, David Ebner, Joe Tracy, and Wendy Maruyama. By 1962, Tage Frid had transferred to RISD and would teach Gilpin, Mattia, Dunnigan, and Somerson during his 30-year tenure there.

Later, from 1976-1986, the teaching team of Jere Osgood and Alphonse Mattia at PIA would be responsible for inspiring an exceptional group of future makers. They provided dual catalysts: Osgood showed how process could evolve from organic design concepts and stimulate forms less foreign to human nature, while Mattia represented a more commentative, gestural approach to studio furniture which was not alien to a conceptually orientated arts curriculum. Among those benefiting from this leadership would be Bruce Beeken, Tim Philbrick, James Schriber, Tom Hucker, Wendy Maruyama, Michael Hurwitz, Tom Loeser, Charles Marks, and Dale Broholm.

On the west coast, James Krenov began the furniture program at the College of the Redwoods in 1981, with workbenches made by Hunter Kariher, an RIT-trained maker. Bill Walker and Zivko Radenkov would be among the Redwoods' first graduates.
There was considerable furniture making activity taking place on the west coast in the 1970s and 1980s, with important work being done by such influential figures as Art Carpenter, Garry Bennett, and Sam Maloof. However, this sphere of west coast action only incidentally influenced P&E at the time although Garry Bennett would be a major influence on Judy McKie's transition to bronze work in the mid-80s. If this wasn't a sufficiently broad canvas, soon we would have Kristina Madsen and Bruce Volz from David Powell's Leeds Design Workshop and, a few years later, Wendy Stayman and Peter Pierobon from Wendell Castle's studio school.

Pritam & Eames was a clear beneficiary of this creative energy, and the schools were an important source of furniture making talent that proved essential to the gallery's development in the early years. In looking at this rich mosaic of influences and talent, it is understandable from a gallery's viewpoint how complementary the notion of the group show was. This ecumenical approach, however, had increasingly to share gallery space and attention with featured and one-person shows, with their attendant requirement of printed materials and advertising. The freer, more open '60s-like showcasing of ideas, where anyone with good work could find a forum, gave way increasingly to a more structured marketplace, more carefully planned exhibitions, and a higher degree of investment on the part of both the maker and the gallery. The pressure for featured shows that developed during this decade came more from the makers than the clients who, for their part, seemed to enjoy the freedom of sampling from a rich buffet. From the viewpoint of a number of makers, however, group shows did not provide a sufficiently serious format by which their work could be understood -- this could only happen by presenting a number of pieces for viewing without the distraction of work by other makers. And it became clear to the partners that some makers were ready to commit to a body of work that could bear the scrutiny and appreciation of an increasingly sophisticated public.

Judy McKie's work proved that she could develop a market all of her own, making it valid to repeat her solo shows on a biennial basis. Other featured shows, although artistically successful, were not able to generate sufficient sales to justify the sacrifice that creating and presenting an original body of work necessitated.

Jere Osgood, like McKie, was able to produce a collection of pieces for his shows. However, because of the complexity of his process, the actual number of Osgood pieces would be far less for any given show. For others, like John Dunnigan and Wendy Stayman, the featured show worked well and the format often brought out their personal best. Hank Gilpin, on the other hand, preferred to send work to the gallery when he was ready and P&E maintained an open-door policy with him. His furniture approaches, kept mostly simple, exuded a fresh, extemporaneous quality and, together with his pricing at the time, made his work welcoming for those coming into contact with studio furniture for the first time. Gilpin's work sold well without the context of a show. Illustrating again the differences among makers, Bill Walker would do his personal best when faced with an exhibit's deadline. Richard Newman worked best by evolving one idea at a time. His exploration of an individual piece was so painstaking and absorbing that you could not realistically expect him to produce a brand new series of pieces for a one-person show at regular intervals.

By the 1990s, some makers subscribed to the idea that furniture should be represented in a manner modeled after the fine arts world. Wendell Castle worked on this assumption; for others, it was a less easy fit. In truth the preparation for an exhibit in the fine arts world and the studio furniture world is simply different, and there are problems in applying this model to furniture. The model was appealing, however, in that it provided a clear path to creating public recognition and a template for individual success. However, the question of a shop's ability to turn out sufficient work for a show is always problematic. It is extremely difficult for a furniture maker to lay away major pieces over a period of time. Only some have the ability and capacity to make this commitment and to produce an original body of work that can bear inspection. Equally important, can a maker do this without unbalancing the routine and resources of a normal shop flow to which they must invariably return?

First, it should be asked how well the marketplace had evolved to support work made on speculation. Studio furniture had evolved largely as a result of requests from clients for specific pieces. In the first years of the gallery, these commissions provided an invaluable base for survival. But what about the maker's next idea -- the one that nobody has asked for? In order to fulfill this aspect of a marketplace function, the gallery would have to produce a clientele. Attracting the attention of a few cognoscenti as the new kid on the cultural block can stimulate some interest in an esoteric marketplace. The partners knew, however, that a lasting market could only result from a gallery being in place over a period of time with a consistent level of representation. Then the trust can develop and the long distances that must be overcome to accomplish such a marketplace do not serve as a barrier.

East Hampton did offer what seemed like fertile ground to support such a marketplace. Among its second-home residents are many with important ties to the cultural hub of New York. East Hampton's own strong furniture tradition dates back to a time when the East End itself was the incubator for fine furniture making before spreading to such centers as Newport, RI. The 18th-century Dominy workshop of East Hampton was a center of furniture-making activity on the East Coast and the shop has been recreated as a permanent exhibit at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. An awareness of the East End's furniture-making heritage may have led many of the area's culturally curious to the gallery's entrance door. Was this base, however, sufficiently strong to support the featured show as an exhibition format?

We have already seen in the '80s how this format worked better for some than for others. The evolution of bronze edition work for Judy McKie generated sufficient sales so that this artist could spend the following period focusing on ideas for her next show. Such self-support was a possibility for only a few.
Another avenue of support that became available in the '70s was grant awards, such as the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), Fulbright grants, the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and state sponsored grants. These subsidies for domestic and foreign residencies made it possible for some makers to produce suitable bodies of work for featured shows. A third possibility was for the galleries themselves to fund the shows. However, most galleries found themselves sufficiently challenged by their overhead and operational expenses. By the late 1980s, P&E was able to offer only limited assistance to help fund show work. It was left to the entry of an investment banker, the late Peter Joseph, to extend the mechanism of stipends to a stable of artists. This, however, was an investment, and like any other investment, would have to pay off in a reasonable period of time.

Apart from the growth of the featured show in the 1980s, furniture also proved to be an attractive subject for museums. In the late '80s, the American Craft Museum mounted the Poetry of the Physical show, the Detroit Institute of Art presented a retrospective of work by Wendell Castle, and the MFA Boston's New American Furniture exhibit capped the end of the decade. The sequence of these shows appeared to be perfect scripting. However, any serious museum professional and observer of 20th-century American decorative arts could not help but be aware of these talented makers who emerged during the '70s and '80s.

After the 1989 MFA Boston show, there was a general feeling that studio furniture had finally arrived. That museum show not only vetted its 26 exhibitors but, to a larger extent, further validated studio furniture as a proper subject for museum exhibitions. It also made the museum a factor in the market place. Suddenly it seemed that more was at stake. As furniture makers reassessed the inherent value of their labor and talent, some sensed the timing was finally right to earn a supportable income. With higher prices, some furniture did become more precious and servicability became a lesser objective. A few clients complained that they were afraid to use their furniture, while others rejoiced as it reflected on the value of their investment.

By 1990, the gallery's good client, Peter Joseph, had decided to open his own gallery in New York. He asked Pritam & Eames to partner with him in the venture. After a number of meetings with Joseph during that year, the Johnsons decided that the differences in their approach were too difficult to bridge. Joseph opened his gallery on Fifth Avenue in 1991, the year of P&E's 10th anniversary.

In looking back, much was accomplished in this decade, not the least of which was the gallery's survival during its first five years. In 1985, in an article commissioned by American Craft Magazine (Dec 84/Jan 85), Tony Chastain-Chapman said, "Pritam & Eames, in fact, offers such a generous samplng of work by so many of our finest craftsmen that it is probably the best observation post we have for seeing what is going on in the handmade furniture field."

By this time, P&E had established relationships with some of the finest studio furnituture makers working in America, and its goal of showcasing their ideas was largely in place. By the mid-1980s, Judy McKie would have had her first solo show at P&E; Jere Osgood's 1985 rosewood desk would be on the cover of American Craft Magazine with a lead story by Rosanne Somerson; the first major commission of gallery makers as a group was well underway for a New York family retreat, and three of the field's most prominent collectors would be considering Richard Newman's major ebony and maple cabinet from his 1989 show. The partners had assisted Michael Stone in the preparation of his book Contemporary American Woodworkers (1986), and Patricia Conway in Art for Everyday (1990). In hindsight, the 1980s was an exuberant time.

During the next decade, as the archives will show, the gallery would continue its mixed format of group and featured shows. Midway through the 1990s, the partners would initiate a new venture of limited-production furniture based on designs from three leading makers. The core of clientele remained and proved to the partners that the interest in this work continued essentially for the reasons it had begun: people recognized the intrinsic value of this work, infused with the spirit of the maker, and made with highest regard for material and process. How would the longevity of this current cycle of American studio furniture measure up to similar peaks of energy established by other decorative arts movements like European Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Wiener Werkstadte, or the American and English Arts & Crafts?


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