Symposium Paul Evans: Crafting Modernism and Crossing Boundaries 

Saturday April 12, 2014, I was delighted to spend my entire day cooped in a museum listening to intellectual speakers while others were at play outside, frolicking freely, in the glorious spring weather.  As sarcastic as that may have sounded, I truthfully will never forget that day which is key, if I want to build a bridge of knowledge on the road to appraising.  Wharton Esherick, Wendell Castle, George Nakashima, and last but not least Paul Evans' names were be inscribed in my brain and served as my base of the first furniture makers that of which I became informed about. 

Woodworker and designer Wharton Esherick (1887-1970), also known as the father of American craft, became adept in several different art facets both before and after dropping out of PAFA, only eighteen months after his arrival in 1908.  Esherick felt satiated with his skills and knowledge, and continued on his path of artistry settling down in the country of Bucks County. Today, although equally an illustrator, print-maker, painter, and sculptor, he ended his career and is renowned as a polished woodworker and furniture maker.  Wharton mastered craftsmanship producing the smoothest of surfaces, finishes, and infusing his passion for painting ideas and periods into the furniture designs themselves.  Wharton designed geometrical yet soft edged, expressionistic, and modern furnishings for interiors.  

Some of the finest of Eshericks' finished pieces include the famous spiral staircase in the Curtis Bok House, which was his largest commission removed twice to be displayed at the American craftsmanship fair in New York as well as in the Museum of Contemporary Crafts also in New York.  His spiral library ladder in 1962 became another popular piece of Eshericks, originally made as a one-of-a-kind either for himself or a client, later growing to be produced as a product for those who desired it so much.

Mark Sffiri, a Bucks County furniture maker himself spoke and shared slides of Wharton's work and timeline.

Mira Nakashima, Creative Director of her fathers studio,  George Nakashima, shared her fathers path into the world of craft and his passion for nature and woods.  

George Nakashima (1905-1990) grew up in Washington, surrounded by forestry, perhaps the main factor which later translated his deep earthy roots into furniture.  

Nakashimas' designs can easily be recognized by the cultured eye today.  Sometimes, the wood grain most often found as walnut or cherrywood, can gives it away, or its simplistic nature.  Most of his furniture is minimalistic compared to a French Art Noveau piece.  To be continued...

Book Review One

 By Albert Sack 

p. 7   Quoting Sack,  
Thee finest american furniture was made between 1680 and 1920.  The craftsmanship and the quality takes precedence over what most believe that the age and history trumps.  This is mainly because furniture made today lacks solidity for the future, whereas in the seventeenth and and eighteenth century, it was built to last and molded to perfection.