WoodCentral's Book Reviews
Furniture Studio: The Heart of the Functional Arts

Furniture Studio: The Heart of the Functional Arts
Edited by John Kelsey and Rick Mastelli

A Publication of The Furniture Society, 1999
Distributed by Cambium Press
Paperback, 141 pp., $30.00
ISBN 0-9671004-0-2

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    More than just a gallery of furniture photos, this well-bound coffee table book is a collection of authoritative essays defining furniture production in our era.
    In his opening commentary "Defining the Field," Yale Professor Edward S. Cooke says, "What really distinguishes the furniture illustrated and discussed in these pages is the background of the furniture makers; their interest in linking concept, materials and technique; and the small shops in which they work."
    The Furniture Society (http://www.avenue.org/Arts/Furniture), with the editorial expertise of Kelsey and Mastelli, both former editors of Fine Woodworking magazine, has produced this first volume in a series to showcase the best of the current best.
    Its full-color presentation and evocative essays are a true eye-opener as to what is being produced in the U.S. and Canada, both in traditional and sculptural pieces.
    Margaret Minnik of The Art Institute of Seattle brings together the diverse opnions of many buyers of custom made furniture in the Northwest.
    Philadelphia furniture maker Josh Markel contributes an essay comparing galleries to shows, discusses the influence of open houses, and the impact of Internet websites.
    University Professor Loy Martin, now retired and a studio furniture maker in Palo Alto, CA, tours the home and collection of Dorothy and George Saxe near San Francisco. The Saxes live with their "collection:" masterworks by Sam Maloof, Wendell Castle, John Cederquist, Judy McKie, Art Carpenter, Thomas Hucker, Garry Bennett and Colin Reid.
    Martin sums up by saying, "In the end, I think it's important that we as makers, along with those who acquire our work, know what differentiates our art from painting and sculpture and works in other craft modes. Otherwise we may continually strive to make our furniture into sculpture or, more vaguely, 'art,' an attempt which, if successful with gallery owners and art critics, risks leaving us perpetual second class citizens in the art world."
    This is an important book, with high hopes for an entire series of books illustrating and describing modern work and craftspeople. It's inspiring, and full of advice for those entering the field.

...Barb Siddiqui