Collector’s Notebook: Artful Utility
Through the ages of Western design, form follows function
Ones to Watch: Preston Singletary
Spotlighting the work of artist Preston Singletary
Details: Things We Love
From handmade furniture and jewelry to primitive gourd art and leather bags, WA&A editors select their favorite objets d’art
Fall | Winter 2010
Jewelry by Alana Leigh
Alana Leigh adds elements of the sacred into each and every piece of jewelry she creates. From her selection of semi-precious stones — each of which is chosen for its meaning as much as its beauty — to the “Lost Wax” casting process that yields a handcrafted style, her pieces emerge as lovely as they are intricate. Inspired by early Florentine, Roman and Elizabethan artwork, Leigh’s designs incorporate such elegant gems as baroque pearls, aquamarine, smoky topaz and labradorite. Her chains are hand woven and quite often adjustable so that bracelets can become necklaces and vice versa. As if one convertible piece was not enough (and it is!), Leigh designs every piece both front and back so that body movements alone can transform each piece from stunning to spectacular. There is no wrong way to wear such beauty! On top of her remarkable talent, Leigh has a natural generosity that humbles us. The profits from her elegant home soirees benefit any number of charities, most of which protect and empower women. What’s not to love?
$200 – $10,000 | 415.215.7048 | www.alanaleigh.com
Doza Armchair by Douglas Green
Green Design Furniture’s Doza armchair isn’t just beautiful and comfortable; it represents a greening of the furniture business. Sustainably harvested wood? Check. Non-toxic finishes? Check. But Douglas Green went a step further with his designs. Dismayed by the waste inherent in the furniture business, he developed an enlightened model for furniture construction and transport. Because his works have no fasteners (they rely on precision-engineered dovetailed pieces that slide into place), they can be shipped flat. This reduces waste through every step of the process, from packing materials to fuel usage in shipping. The Portola Valley Public Library, in California’s Silicon Valley, turned to Maine-based Green Designs when designing its LEED Platinum-certified building. Green’s furniture is scattered throughout the light-filled structure. We love the idea of curling up in one of these environmentally sensitive armchairs and getting lost in a good book.
$3,750 | 33.5 x 32.75 x 34 inches | 800.853.4234 | www.greendesigns.com
After Midnight Champagne Chiller by Douglas Rich
With every superlative imaginable on the tips of our tongues, there really isn’t a better way to describe self-taught artist Douglas Rich than as the quintessential Renaissance man. An absolute creative genius, Rich finds kinship in artistic philosophies from the coastal tribes of British Columbia as well as those of Japan’s Samurai sword masters. His hands are just as nimble as his brain, it turns out, and Rich creates exquisite works in an impossibly broad range of media. From delicate glass chandeliers to handmade furniture, jewelry and accessories, all of his works are brilliantly crafted and entirely unique. We swoon over his colorful chandeliers, which often resemble stone, bone or leather. But the sinewy lines of his deeply textured carbon fiber and rosewood After Midnight champagne chiller left us grasping for words. We are simply astonished by how broadly talented this artist is.
$5,000 | 10.25 x 12.25 x 7 inches | 303.278.3510 | www.littlestarfineart.com
Frenzy #1 by John Bryan
Sculptor and woodcarver John Bryan takes his inspiration directly from nature. In styles ranging from traditional to contemporary, Bryan has been producing fireplace mantles, carved doors, sculptures and art pieces for 25 years. His striking works are often directly reflective of the environment where a piece will reside. Frenzy #1, for instance, a carved wall piece, was created for an office building sited on the working waterfront in Portland, Maine. We love the clarity, energy and balance of his design and the texture created by chisel facets, what Bryan calls “the carver’s equivalent to a painter’s brushstroke.” Bryan’s work is timeless, and assuredly handmade.
$8,500 | 36 x 36 x 1.25 inches | 207.829.6447 | www.bryanart.com
Our Lady of Peace by Mark and Karen Klay
Prepare to marvel. The exquisite Our Lady of Peace — among the most popular of all the creations by Mark and Karen Klay — is made from a gourd! Elevating primitive gourd art to its highest expression, Mark and Karen excel in hand making every last detail, from her European rosary and punched tin base, all the way to the tip of her head with its beautiful antique mantilla. The couple, artistic geniuses with a shared passion for Native American art, have mastered the arts of ceramics, watercolor, calligraphy and jewelry making. In addition to their spectacular gourds, their current inspirations include Spanish bultos and Native American katchinas. Their craftsmanship is quite simply unparalleled.
$7,500 | 46 inches | 520.219.5771 | www.klayfineart.com
Round Table by Michael Gross
If you like to laugh then you’ll love Michael Gross’ creations. We couldn’t stop giggling as we read the handmade tiles that comprise Gross’ tabletop. “He’s got that old log cabin smell again,” says a stick-like figure while another girly angelic creature begs questions including, “Got Gout?” Really! With a frosting-like grout adhering the ceramic tiles, we’re impressed by the quality craftsmanship of this award-winning artist. But truly, it’s his whimsical sense of humor that puts us over the edge. Featured in the book Mid-Century Modernism by Julia Schulman, Michael Gross’ creations offer a personal narrative that reveals an unusual mix of earthly magic and primal vitality.
$10,500 | 19 x 47 inches | Available at Ann Nathan Gallery | 312.664.6622 | annnathangallery.com
Greg’s Bag by Greg Roche
From the first bag we laid our eyes upon to the tenth, we couldn’t stop ogling the various purses and bags by Greg Roche. From men’s and ladies’ bags to backpacks and briefcases, each one is unique and easily customizable. Each bag begins as an idea, for which Roche makes a pattern, then chooses the finest leathers. The results? Beautiful hand-sewn leather bags for the most discriminating clientele. Among our many favorites, Greg’s Bag was born after Roche visited Italy and noted how useful and multi-functional their men’s bags are. With multiple pockets and compartments inside and out, Greg’s Bag has become a favorite for both men and women. Another gorgeous one — the Monterey Backpack/Tote ($279) — can be used as a backpack or convert instantly to a one-arm tote. The straps on the back cross over the top to cover the zipper tabs and keep out unauthorized fingers.
$299 | 9.25 x 10.25 x 4.25 inches | 800.762.4390 | www.rocheleather.com
Found by Mona Hoffman
We’ve all had our flings with concrete — in countertops and floors, even furniture — seduced as we are by its natural imperfections and functional beauty. But what artisan Mona Hoffman can do with this medium is simply staggering. Inspired by the work of Fu Tung Cheng, Hoffman has spent years perfecting the use of concrete as an art form. Her latest works — table lamps, wall tiles, boxes and benches — are at once warm yet sleek, contemporary and deliciously rustic. Among our favorite lamps, Found illustrates her remarkable knack for juxtaposition. In a handsome, almost marble-esque base, she adds colorful recycled glass tiles and weathered washers to create an earthy and unassuming one-of-a-kind work of art that begs to be touched. Blockhouse, another beguiling lamp made of individually crafted and stacked blocks of concrete, is utterly modern in its sculptural beauty. We love the way Hoffman embraces raw texture and rough edges to create unpretentious yet stunning works of art.
$975 | 28 inches high | 812.630.0787 | www.roughedgesdesign.com
Shoshone Jackrabbit Fireplace Tools and Andirons by R.C. Merrill
His hard-earned skills as a fourth-generation Arizona farmer and rancher circuitously led R.C. Merrill to a brilliant career creating fine art, sculpture and hand-forged furniture. With painstaking work and his sense of humor very well intact, Merrill has created everyday tools, like andirons and fireplace tools, that are beautiful, completely usable and yet utterly fanciful. We love Merrill’s playful take on Molesworth’s jackrabbit, with whimsical elements like carrot handles and legs that suggest cowboy boots. Each of his designs reflects Merrill’s manufacturing technology, his love for all things Western and his absolute dedication to time-honored craftsmanship. Still, we can’t stop smiling when we glance at this lean bunny in all his forms. Merrill has delighted us yet again.
$4,500 | Tools: 37 x 10 x 9 inches; Andirons: 27 x 10 x 21 inches | 480.947.2787 | www.colliergallery.com
Household Quilt Cupboard by Jim Rose
From the time Jim Rose saw an exhibit of quilts at the Milwaukee Museum, he was hooked. When we saw his Household Quilt Cupboard made of found and salvaged materials, we were hooked, too! Smart money says that you will also be captivated by the brilliant colors and natural rust patina in this cupboard, all original colors of painted steel. Following the Shaker tradition, this one-of-a-kind creation can be the pièce de résistance in your special room! Specializing in steel art furniture, Rose’s reuse of refuse provides new life to old things, which is an approach to art we can’t help but love.
$3,950 | 42 x 27 x 18 inches | Available at Ann Nathan Gallery | 312.664.6622 | annnathangallery.com