October 18, 2007


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Perfecting a craft
NH Furniture Masters prepare for their big event
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

David Lamb is a founding member of the New Hampshire Furniture Masters, which formed in 1993 to continue New Hampshire’s legacy of fine furniture making and raise awareness of the craft in their own state. Lamb’s work is commissioned by celebrities and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

In many ways, New Hampshire is unique to have so many masters in a small geographic area, Lamb said. The Masters is selective and now has about 24 members. It could be the influence of the Shakers, or the League of NH Craftsmen, or a longstanding sense of craftsmanship or history, he said.

Rather than open a showroom, the Masters started holding annual juried auctions in 1995.

“It’s just a unique way of getting [our work] out there,” Lamb said. This year’s auction is Sunday, Oct. 21, at 3:30 p.m. at the Wentworth by the Sea hotel in New Castle. It’s also an opportunity to get high-quality work for possibly less than you’d pay to commission it. At the auction, that might mean between $2,500 and $25,000 depending on size and complexity.

This stuff isn’t mass produced. Each original piece is handmade.

“This is art furniture and people need to understand that,” Lamb said. It’s made in the same mindset and with the same level of expertise artisans had when they created furniture here 200 years ago, Lamb said.

The masters exhibit the auction pieces in the summer leading up to the event. There are 18 pieces this year. You can see “Art Unfolding: New Works by the New Hampshire Furniture Masters,” through Friday, Oct. 19, at the Burlingame Gallery, 111 Water St. in Exeter, 770-2956. They’ve also exhibited at the New Hampshire Historical Society and NH Institute of Art.

The masters bring designs to the in-house jury consisting of Lamb, Jere Osgood and Terry Moore plus Currier Museum of Art curator Andrew Spahr at the beginning of the year. A couple months are spent completing the pieces to be ready for the catalog photo shoot, and the jury makes final decisions. They also invite out-of-state guest masters and up and coming artists to participate.

They look for quality in technical approach and visual design, but do not limit style. Work might be traditional, contemporary or sculptural.

Some auction work is driven by a patron sponsor. About 90 percent of the masters’ work is commissioned custom work, but in a nod to the Renaissance model, a patron might decide to get involved and sponsor a piece for the auction. More than a customer, a patron is “someone who believes in what you do,” or the art form, and wants to get your work seen, Lamb said. If someone else bids more than the patron agrees to pay, the master creates a new piece for the patron or the patron is reimbursed.

A silent auction for smaller works has been added to the event, which will include at least 35 items this year.

“We don’t want people to feel like they have to be mega-millionaires to participate,” Lamb said. High-quality, detailed work can be had for a few hundred dollars instead of a few thousand, Lamb said. You still have to pay for the $75 admission to both auctions and gala reception.

Much of the proceeds will go to the Masters’ education efforts, prison outreach and studio-based learning. There are only two students in the latter program so far. They rotate between studios each trimester, depending on design interest, for three years. The program is tied to NHIA so students can study design theory, art history and other subjects that apply to furniture making.

“You need to be able to communicate on paper, sketching out ideas and proposals for potential customers,” Lamb said. The program is unique in the U.S.

The Masters with work in this year’s auction include Ted Blachly of Warner, Jon Brooks of New Boston, Wayne Marcoux of Manchester, Brian Sargent of Candia and Tom McLaughlin and Lamb, both of Canterbury.

To learn more, see furnituremasters.org or call 898-0242..

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8/30/2007 Art in the fresh air
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8/2/2007 New Hampshire treasure honored again
7/26/2007 Taking care of wood
7/19/2007 Local Color
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6/28/2007 Local Color
6/21/2007 The great outdoors
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6/7/2007 Goodbye, gallery
5/31/2007 Impressions
5/24/2007 Local color
5/17/2007 Stieglitz in Manchester
5/10/2007 They're artists and they vote
5/3/2007 Lowell is the canvas for a summer of art
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3/15/2007 Local color
3/8/2007 Making money
3/1/2007 Local Color
2/22/2007 Local Color
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2/1/2007 DreamFarm Cafe's big show
1/25/2007 Built world
1/18/2007 Expressions of character
1/11/2007 Best practices
1/4/2007 Nominate your favorite for Governor's Arts Awards
12/28/2006 Art in 2006 in southern New Hampshire
12/21/2006 Time to learn
12/14/2006 Frisella's new studio; sell art for animals; girls only time
12/07/2006 Stained glass, found objects and ornaments
11/30/2006 No shortage of art sales
11/23/2006 A Granite State greeting
11/16/2006 Santa Claus hangs with artists
11/9/2006 Visual art meets poetry
11/2/2006 Local Color
10/26/2006 Local Color
10/19/2006 Local Color
10/12/2006 Almost 80 artists in Hollis ...
10/05/2006 Fine art in a field
09/28/2006 Local Color
09/21/2006 Local Color
09/14/2006 Local color
09/07/2006 Bel Espirit, a happening of chance
08/31/2006 An artistic endeavor
08/24/2006 The almost-all architecture edition
08/17/2006 Half century of creativity
08/10/2006 Obsession with the Isles of Shoals
08/03/2006 See the precise craft of carving with a chainsaw
07/20/2006 For museums or your living room
07/13/2006 Making their mark
07/06/2006 Sense of place
06/29/2006 New ground
06/22/2006 MAA honors scholars an artists of the year
06/15/2006 Galleries open doors
06/08/2006 It's sticky up here
06/01/2006 Mural for MCAM
05/25/2006 Scenes from the air
05/18/2006 Vanguardians sit down
05/11/2006 Public masterpiece
05/04/2006 Art helps kids at MAA show
04/27/2006 In-house artists on display
04/20/2006 No Pinocchio here
04/13/2006 School's out art's in
04/06/2006 Meet Michael Toomey
03/30/2006 Art builds community ...
03/23/2006 From Celtic design to Ayn Rand
03/16/2006 Got Cow?
03/09/2006 A creative view of China
03/02/2006 Monastery Arts open new show
02/23/2006 Love and art in one location
02/16/2006 Job loss leads to artistic success
02/09/2006 Art in the key of Adam and Eve
02/02/2006 Art to make you think
01/26/2006 New York artists to show at Derryfiled School
01/19/2006 A new age of artwork
01/12/2006 Photography buffs unite
01/05/2006 Jeweler teaches her trade
Alison Williams
All together now
A forest through the trees
A light in the dark
An event for artists, by artists
Anne Dufresne
Armand Szainer: never forget
Art group picks artist of the year
Art In The Park
Art in the Park sees attendance dip
Arts In Education Conference
Art like Crayons for grown-ups
Art you can sit on (if you own it)
Better Living Through Artistry
Capturing history with a panaramic view
Ceramic Biennial
Currier Kicks Off 2005 With NHSS Show
Die fotografieren
Doug Mendoza: Body Artist
Enjoying the Open Doors Trolley Tour
East Colony Fine Art has gone jazz
Equal Arts Opportunities
Exploring purgatory and paradise
Expressions coming from within
Fighting cancer with creativity
Free food, free music and plenty of art
Harry Umen: New Work

Head of the class
Heating up the canvas
Inside the artist’s studio
It’s art, and it’s even practical!
James Aponovich

James Chase
Jan De Bray
Local Artist, Global Message
Lollipops and Hand Grenades
MAA Adds New Dimension To Gallery
MAA Gallery Mixes It Up
Making Book With Children
Manchester Art In 2004
Morgan's "Danse" Comes To Manch
Morin Avoid Typecasting
NHIA chalks it up to May 14
Open Doors Manchester Returns
Open Doors Trolley Tour, The Winter Version
Looking for a crowd? Just add art
McGowan Fine Art Turns 25
Nita Leger Casey
Patti Matthis
Saint Anselm Favorite Returns
Searching for the extraordinary
Small Town Art Hits The Big City
Spirit Of The Holidays Exhibit
Step into the Art Pad at Langer Place
Stride and ride
Tagging goes to wall, gets legit
The art and craft of Glendi
The art of signs to art and stuff
The Art Of The Qashquai

The Return Of The Art Trolley Tour
The Ubiquitous Ann Domingue
Two-continent painting exhibit opens
Using nature as a canvas
Women's Art Group Marks 10th Year
Wyeth Works Return To The Currier