The Sculptural Side of Wood



SHOWCASE-November/December 2010

by Rebecca Falzano

A functional medium takes on sculptural forms at Messler Gallery

What do you get when you show sculpture at a furniture school? When you invite pure artistic expression to a place where functional woodcraft reigns? The opportunity for dialogue between sculptors and furniture makers who are linked by their reverence for wood, according to Bruce Brown, one of the curators of the upcoming Contemporary Maine Wood Sculpture exhibition at the Messler Gallery at Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. “This show has been an intriguing pursuit for the gallery because we most often show furniture or ‘functional’ woodwork such as turned bowls or boxes,” says gallery manager Beth Sauer. “The deliberate choice to show woodcraft that is categorized as sculpture and not furniture invites dialogue: How are the two art forms similar and dissimilar?”
Running from December to February, the exhibition explores the breadth of expression achieved by contemporary sculptors who live in Maine and work with wood. The show is co-curated by Center for Maine Contemporary Art curator emeritus Bruce Brown, sculptor Steve Lindsay, and artist and ICON gallery founder Duane Paluska. The range of work includes an installation of beech switches and jute by Barbara Andrus, Frederick Lynch’s minimalistic Segment 48 and Segment 57, and Tom Chapin’s energetic enameled carving Frequency and Modulation. Wood in this show has been carved, laminated, built into architectural forms, painted, or left naturally colored. And its source is just as varied—from twigs and branches gathered in the woods to milled 1×3 pieces purchased from the local lumber store. Some of the wood is recycled; one of the works is fashioned from a retired hand plane.
“Maine sculptors are doing fabulous work in wood, but there aren’t many chances to see an exhibition specifically for wood sculpture. This is a great opportunity to do so,” says Sauer. On the following pages, we bring you a preview of the show.


lynchFrederick Lynch Segment 48, 2007, oil and enamel on pine, 18” x 12” (above)

This series is based on distinct shapes extrapolated from certain defined areas found within my different paintings. Called ‘Segments,’ they are relief sculpture, constructed of pine and various mediums including oil, enamel, glass, plaster, and occasionally, found objects.”

For more Frederick Lynch: McGowan Fine Art, Concord, NH


Stephen Porter Circle 60, 2006, beech, 24” x 20” x 8” (right)

My sculpture is based on a formal vocabulary of geometric shapes arranged in ordered configurations that contain the right sense of balance. Within these arrangements, the size, proportion, and material or color of each of the elements combine to form three-dimensional structures that force one to respond to them as purely sculptural ideas conveying concepts of weight, tension, space, and gravity.”

For more Stephen Porter:


Matt Hutton #2 Vestigial Landmark, 2009, walnut and milk paint, 65” x 75” x 12” (above)

This is a body of work that explores process, utility, and form. It focuses on the transformation of the Midwest landscape, particularly that of farmlands that have deteriorated. While often dilapidated and degenerate, these architectural landmarks continue to endure amongst the contemporary sprawl.”

For more Matt Hutton:


Lin Lisberger Anchored: Hand over Hand, 2010, cherry, apple, beech, wire, and steel, 44” x 48” x 26” (bottom)

I have always included narrative in my sculpture, often including architectural references. Ladders and bridges are among the most fundamental architectural forms, suggesting movement through space and endless possibilities. These are sculptures about journeys taken as we grow and change.”

For more Lin Lisberger:


Tom Chapin Frequency and Modulation, 2008, Philippine mahogany, 44” x 18” x 3” (right)

The nature of Chapin’s materials, wood and stone, and the working method of reductive carving require that he begin with a vision of the final form. But in spite of the deliberate choices, the work will seem to be the result of the work’s inner compulsion rather than external decisions. Biological necessity and natural selection rather than intelligent design seem to be at work in the sculpture as they are in nature.”   
—Duane Paluska

For more Tom Chapin:


Contemporary Maine Wood Sculpture runs December 3, 2010–February 4, 2011, at the Messler Gallery, on the campus of Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, at the corner of Route 90 and Mill Street in Rockport. The OPENING reception is December 3, 5–7 p.m.

The exhibition can also be viewed online at . For more information, please call 207-594-5611.

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