The Lambovich brothers
Proof that artists can work together
By Heidi Masek firstname.lastname@example.org
Working with other artists can be like “climbing up a very steep slope of egos,” said painter James Aponovich, the state’s artist laureate.
Yet he and David Lamb, whose handcrafted furniture has been commissioned by celebrities, are now jokingly referred to as the “Lambovich brothers.”
The two were paired together by Lamb’s patron of about 20 years, Diane Griffith. They spent about a year and a half working together to create a piece for her that included a painting by Aponovich.
Although the Griffith Secretary is for a private owner, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and Department of Cultural Resources wanted to celebrate what came from two top New Hampshire artists. The “Art of Collaboration” on June 25 included a discussion about collaborating, and a public unveiling of the piece.
Rebecca Lawrence, director of the State Council on the Arts, clarified that when they talk about collaboration across disciplines, they mean people in different fields who “connect and invent.” That’s different than a theater commissioning a play or music, for example. Bob Larsen, senior counsel at Sulloway & Hollis, posed the question by asking when does a collaboration create something greater than the sum of its parts, to the discussion panel which included Aponovich and Lamb.
Aponovich explained he didn’t want to make a painting with a David Lamb frame. They didn’t want the painting and furniture to be two separate parts. They needed to meld, Lamb said.
Aponovich pointed out that Lamb is a “Shaker boy” and has humility. Lamb’s not a Shaker, but he did grow up in Canterbury Shaker Village. Instead of clashing egos, they built on ideas at each session. The two didn’t discuss specific technique much, since they work in different fields, but discussed the work as an “emotional” piece.
Griffith had the “courage to keep challenging us,” Aponovich said. When they offered ideas, Griffith said she wanted it all. “She really wanted what you might call the Full Monty,” Aponovich said.
There were challenges. Aponovich realized at one point he’d painted on the wrong side of the panel, which Lamb fixed. When glue squeezed onto the paintings, Lamb gave Aponovich the chisel to remove it.
Larsen, a painter, talked about the energy that comes of collaboration. “Being an artist can be a very lonely pursuit,” he said. Working with someone on a project can renew excitement.
Both Lamb and Aponovich said now that they had been brought together by Griffith, neither is much interested in finding different collaborators in these disciplines. Lamb has an idea for a “break front” that would have a painting of the Presidential Range. “I’m scared to hell of it,” Aponovich said.
Furniture Master Bill Thomas has collaborated on a number of projects. He spoke about making handles for a pewter Queen Ann-style teapot created by Jon Gibson. The really interesting part of his collaboration with Gibson is that Thomas designed a form for molding the pewter that is designed to come apart like a puzzle. The teapot is wider at the bottom than at the neck.
Thomas normally works in 18th-century American styles, which are based on Rococo of France and England, he said. But one morning about a year and a half ago, he woke up with a vision of a more contemporary cabinet with a glass inlay. He decided to go ahead with the idea after he bumped into glass artist Thomas Meyers.
Thomas had left only a rectangular area for the glass inlay but Meyers came up with an idea that let the glass leave that space and look more organic.
He decided to use the design for the annual New Hampshire Furniture Masters auction, although it did not sell. Normally, the furniture masters can only afford to build on commission.
The June 25 discussion on collaboration was held in the Sulloway & Hollis Gallery in Concord, where a show called “Synesthesia” displays works by Michael Roundy, Charlie Goodwin, Tom Driscoll and Thaddeaus Beal.