Art Coming Out of the Woodwork

Some people see a cabinet, a wardrobe or even a bookshelf and see pieces of furniture.

Others go beyond the basic use and see former trees, a forest of art, even in the most utilitarian piece of wood-worked furniture.

That bookshelf was once a piece of cherry lumber, and a living cherry tree. We are too far removed from what the bookshelf once was to cherish the earth it came from.

Connecting people with the origins of their art, the artists of Copper Moon Gallery’s newest exhibition, January Forest, pays homage to the earthy roots of wood: “People don’t pay attention to the art in the functional,” says Nerissa Rosati, owner of Copper Moon and a woodwork artist. “It’s a shame, because a cabinet is a work of art. We are too used to machine-built perfection, that hand-built looks less perfect’ to us,” she says.

The artists in January’s Forest offer a wide range of wood-worked art pieces, from quirky chess sets to polished inlay cabinetry. Even the rougher, hand-hewn cabinet has a place, in a time when machines can accomplish far more than the human hand.

As Rosati says, it is a feat to present something so technically skilled without even using a machine to thin the wood.

A rocking chair rests next to a rustic chess set, representing the multiple interpretations of wood as art, that artists can create. The rocking chair is sturdy and comfortable looking, and the chess set by Bob Atkinson is intriguing — it has no definable pawns, kings or queens, one must assign those posts to the pieces of rough willow that mark the positions. It’s an exercise in imagination and creativity.

Just outside the showroom is a table laden with chisels of every size, and paper-thin veneers of every kind of wood imaginable.

A book of wood types accompanies the veneers, and the idea is for gallery guests to identify the wood veneers and see if they are correct.

Having gallery viewers identify and appreciate the wood adds to the context of the show. Without knowledge, the gap between the natural and the manufactured widens.

Rosati picks up a Eucalyptus veneer, a tree we will never see in the Yukon, and shows how shiny the wood is.

We examine a second chess set, by woodwork artists John and Jim Quinsey, which is polished and professional. It uses ebony maple to represent the black squares of a chess board.

Rosati goes to the veneer samples and the book to learn about ebony, and we find it is an endangered tree. Many valuable woods are becoming endangered. The woodwork artists strive to create a connection between what we see and how it came from and affects the natural world.

January’s Forest will run until the end of February at the Copper Moon Gallery in the McCrae Industrial Area.

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