OCAF opens first exhibit dedicated to art made with wood

A chair based on the form of a gorilla by Robert Brou.
A chair based on the form of a gorilla by Robert Brou.

“Wood Works: A Regional Exhibition” will open Jan. 20 with a reception at the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation in Watkinsville.

The inaugural exhibit features the work of 40 wood artists and craftsmen, including furniture makers and wood turners. The exhibit remains up through Feb. 17.

The reception on Jan. 20 is free and open to the public from 6 to 8 p.m. in the main gallery. The curator for the exhibit is Abraham Tesser and the sponsor is Highland Woodworking of Atlanta.

Visitors can see woven baskets by Harvey Meyer, turned wooden teapots by Michael Gibson, vessels made of burls topped with delicately turned detail by Mathew Hattala and wooden stools by Atlanta’s foremost production wood turner, Nick Cook.

Perhaps the first family in woodturning is the Moulthrops of Atlanta. The patriarch, Ed Moulthrop, is credited with being “the father of modern woodturning.” Their work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the White House.

The legacy continues with son Phillip and grandson Matt. Both will be exhibiting their recent work at the show.

Based simply on floor space, the largest part of the show is devoted to furniture makers. For example, Alf Sharp of Tennessee, builds museum-quality furniture, primarily in the 18th century American style. His work resides in the Hermitage (Andrew Jackson’s home) and the Tennessee State Museum.

A furniture maker can transform wood into a functional piece of furniture. For example, sitting in Sabiha Mujtaba’s Bharatanatyam Dancer chair puts one into the lap of an Indian dancer and sitting in Robert Brou’s Gorilla Chair has one in the lap of a gorilla.

Special woods and veneers are used by furniture makers Scott DeWaard and Harold Dodson. For some studio furniture makers the emphasis is strongly on the materials. Don Bundrick builds furniture from branches, twigs and bark. Others feature natural edge slabs or reclaimed lumber. Still others mix wood and metal as in the “industrial” furniture of Jeff Walker.

Leonard Piha makes totem-like sculptures and Reid McCalister creates pieces from discarded wood. One of Craig Nutt’s pieces is a flying ear of corn designed for Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport.

Cameron Leidon makes fantasy tools and Tad Gloeckler builds complex case goods in which components fold up and nest into one another like a Chinese wooden puzzle.

OCAF opens first exhibit dedicated to art made with wood
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