Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Seat of Enlightenment

The Seat of Enlightenment

A good friend of ours has been working, non-stop, on a fund-raising event in support of the Community Warehouse here in Portland. The Community Warehouse is a righteous place that provides furniture and household goods to people in need, at no cost to them. This year's fund-raiser (The Chair Affair) is an auction of about fifty chairs designed or re-created by an amazing group of artists and artisans -- among them, my husband David and our good friend Larry Shifrin.

Larry is the 'Owner and CIO (Chief Illumination Officer!)' of Lumen Essence Lighting, a fascinating and creative shop in the Pearl District selling an impressive range of reclaimed-and-refinished lighting fixtures as well as fixtures Larry has designed and created himself. It's a terrific place, and well worth a visit even if you're not in the market for a new wall sconce at the moment!

So when Larry approached David with an idea for crafting a chair to include in the auction, there was no doubt in my mind that this duo would create something absolutely spectacular. Which they did.

Here's their description of the chair:

The Seat of Enlightenment

Designed and constructed by Larry Shifrin and David Dunning, this chair is an expression of West Coast Pacific Rim fusion. The Buddha floats in repose over translucent arcing waves of Pacific tranquility. He sits centered, at home among forms reflecting both East and West. As Frank Lloyd Wright drank in the aesthetics of the orient and drew them into his forms, we seek an expression that makes the old new, and the new, timeless.

For his part, David built and shaped in hardwood, forming over ninety wood-to-wood joints involving no metal fasteners. The chair form is seven feet tall and features fifteen legs. He developed the layered, crackled paint effect and finished the hardwood in urethane. Meanwhile, Larry selected the brass and bronze elements and produced the rich blend of subtle polychrome finishes seen on those pieces. Larry also chose, from his extensive inventory of period glass, the 1912 leaded glass shade illuminating the Buddha. The gifted glass artist Carol Hall was kind enough to contribute the highly textured curving glass from her studio, recycling and re-slumping it for this piece. To complete the piece, Larry illuminated the forms with ten integrated light sources.

  • Lost wax cast bronze Buddha
  • Recycled, re-slumped art glass donated by Carol Hall Glass Design & Lighting
  • Leaded glass from the venerable Jefferson Glass Company, dated 1912
  • Hand-blown aurene glass with delicate glass webbing
  • Hardwood
  • Brass and copper
  • Paint
What the description doesn't talk about are the 12-plus hour days spent creating the design (and fine-tuning it a gazillion times - these Myers/Briggs 'NTs' are all about perfection), cutting the wood, measuring the various elements to ensure that each and every piece/cut/joint was as close to perfect as possible (and measuring again, just to be sure), talking on the phone, consulting in the workshop, figuring out how to place all of the wiring required for the amazing lighting, sanding, gluing, painting layer upon layer upon LAYER to create the final crackle finish -- and making at least one wife (and probably two!) totally CRAZY in the process. Larry got to experience me in Full Cranky Bitch Mode one evening when dinner got postponed way, way too late; I must have scared him, 'cause he came over the next morning with a peace offering of beautiful Shasta daisies (Which worked, of course. I'm a sucker for fresh flowers). And that's just the stuff I got to see. I'm quite sure that Larry put in tons of time when he wasn't in the workshop with David!

But I gotta say that these two men (along with Carol Hall, the glass artist who donated the two beautiful pieces of slumped glass) have created something beyond special.

If you're in Portland, OR, or can get here on April 26th, why not buy a couple of tickets and attend the auction? It's for a very good cause, and you'll get to see some amazing, beautiful, quirky and interesting creations (and who knows - maybe you'll bid on something and take a piece of art home with you!).


barbg said...

O mi gawd, it's magnificent!!!

Revalani said...

I saw it last evening in person (in chairson? In chairperson?). It's astoundingly beautiful. What the photo doesn't show is the amazing painted surface of the chair, the four exquisite "star" lights, the amazing glasswork. It's really a masterpiece.