September 10, 2009

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Meet the Masters
NH Furniture Masters take over the Currier for their 14th auction

By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

This September, see work by state prisoners in the Currier Museum of Art.

The works by two prisoners will join the New Hampshire Furniture Masters at their 14th annual auction, which moved to the Currier in Manchester after a few years of holding it at the Wentworth by the Sea Hotel in New Castle. About 20 pieces are available to bid on at “Unsurpassed Artistry: New Hampshire Furniture Masters,” Sunday, Sept. 20, plus two from the Masters’ Prison Outreach Program.

The Masters are making some of the best studio furniture in the country, said Currier chief curator Andrew Spahr. NHFM work is in collections of the Smithsonian, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and more, besides the Currier, which owns four pieces. A Masters’ 10th-anniversary exhibit was at the Currier.

“The members all have national reputations,” said NHFM current chair David Lamb. With about 24 members, it’s become more of a regional organization, with furniture makers from Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts since its 1992 launch, Lamb said.

In upstairs galleries, the Currier exhibits historic furniture made in Portsmouth from about the 1680s through the 1810s, and other examples from New Hampshire and Boston-area makers, Spahr said. The Currier has had a commitment to fine furniture and New Hampshire makers since it opened in 1929, and working with NHFM continues that commitment, Spahr said.

Wentworth is a “beautiful venue,” but Manchester is more directly accessible from many places, Lamb said. Plus, the Currier is one of best museums in the Northeast, Lamb said. “To be associated with them ... and for them to want us there, we couldn’t ask for anything more.... It’s a form of validation, really,” Lamb said.

Their first auction was in 1995, and the interesting thing about these is that a patron usually works with a master to create the piece. If someone else bids higher, the master can make a second for the original patron. Pieces can take months to finish, and final bids have ranged from about $2,500 at the bottom to $15,000 to $18,000 at the top, Lamb said. This year, they’ve tried to keep most of the items in the middle, while last year a number were “very pricey,” Lamb said. A part of the proceeds from the event benefits the Masters’ Prison Outreach and apprentice educational programs.

If you aren’t in a position to bid several thousand dollars, or even pay $75 for a ticket to the gala and auction, you can see all of the work for the price of Currier admission ($10 for adults, free for those under 18, and free for everyone from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays). Even better, visit the free preview exhibit at New Hampshire Historical Society Library (30 Park St., Concord, 228-6688, www.nhhistory.org) before it closes Sept. 16.

Auction pieces are displayed in the Currier starting Sept. 18. The change allows the Masters to give a series of lectures and demonstrations leading up to the event, which is part of their educational outlook, Lamb said. In previous years, potential buyers had time to look at the pieces and talk to the makers, but looking at something finished is much different than seeing what kind of work goes into it, Lamb said. Joinery, carving and precision work are all done by hand, which is “not a common thing for people to see,” Lamb said.

Not all the items are as involved, but that shows their range of complexity, and the masters want people to know they make more affordable pieces, too, Lamb said.

“We also want to show off ... but the main goal of what we do is we want people to know what’s possible,” Lamb said. Styles range from traditional to contemporary and art furniture.

Some auction pieces are “spec.” In other words, a craftsman makes something because they are “dying” to, Lamb said. Otherwise, many masters really only build what they are commissioned to.

If you are looking for something unique, “this kind of organization is exactly the kind of place you want to go,” Lamb said. “These are one of a kind, one at a time ... so [it’s] really a different animal,” Lamb said. If you are interested in commissioning furniture or just seeing how it’s made, come to the demonstrations or lectures at the Currier, he said.


Woodworking up close
Learn how these master craftsmen work, or see their work at these events:
• New Hampshire Furniture Masters auction preview exhibit at New Hampshire Historical Society Library (30 Park St., Concord, 228-6688, www.nhhistory.org) through Sept. 16. Free.
• Auction pieces are on view at the Currier (currier.org, 669-6144) from Friday, Sept. 18, until the auction Sunday, Sept. 20.
• Tom McLaughlin speaks on carving Friday, Sept. 18, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 
• Jeffrey Cooper speaks on carving Friday, Sept. 18, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
• John Cameron speaks on Asian joinery examples and engraving Saturday, Sept. 19, at 10:30 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m.
• Select Furniture Masters give illustrated lectures on the history of the NH Furniture Masters (Terry Moore); parquetry technique (Brian Reid); making a dining table (Ted Blachly); and carving and details (David Lamb) in the Currier auditorium Saturday, Sept. 19, from 1 to 4 p.m. 
• Tim Coleman speaks on incised details and carving Sunday, Sept. 20, at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
• Currier Chief Curator Andrew Spahr hosts an “Auction Exhibition Gallery Tour” Sunday, Sept. 20, from 1 to 1:30 p.m.

The auction
What: Unsurpassed Artistry: New Hampshire Furniture Masters, 14th annual auction
When: Sunday, Sept. 20, gala reception and silent auction of smaller works at 6 p.m., live auction at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St., Manchester
Tickets: $75 in advance, $82.50 at the door, includes auction catalog.
Contact: www.furnituremasters.org, 898-0242.

The Masters
New Hampshire Furniture Masters Ted Blachly, Aurelio Bolognesi, Jon Brooks, John Cameron, Timothy Coleman, Jeffrey Cooper, Garrett Hack, Howard Hatch, David Lamb, Wayne Marcoux, Tom McLaughlin, Martin Milkovits, Terry Moore, Sam Norris, Brian Reid, Brian Sargent, William Thomas and A. Thomas Walsh participate, along with guest artists Richard Oedel and Peter Turner, and Prison Outreach Program participants Al Eason and Eric Grant.

 


9/3/2009 Green living

8/27/2009 MAA is early
8/20/2009 Maa Art in the Park show link with People Fest
8/13/2009 Greeley tradition
8/6/2009 Taming the painting
7/30/2009 Make your mark in Goffstown
7/23/2009 Kimball-Jenkins update
7/16/2009 Local color
7/9/2009 Currier offers free admission and wood-turning demos
7/2/2009 Not a drop to drink
6/25/2009 The SOPHA Community
6/18/2009 Manchester and Concord host gallery nights June 25
6/11/2009 Art out in the open
6/4/2009 Keeping jobs
5/28/2009 Monastary and Concord Arts Market return
5/21/2009 Her own path
5/14/2009 Nine public artworks for Nashua?
5/7/2009 Indoor and outdoor Mother's Day ideas
4/30/2009 SOPHA members show off to help Food Bank
4/23/2009 Visit the Currier for free during school vacation
4/16/2009 Colleges show off around the state
4/9/2009 Artist hotline pilot program launches
4/2/2009 Cause for soldiers
3/26/2009 Can art spider link NH?
3/19/2009 Group art shows open this week
3/12/2009 Earth, animals and learning to draw
3/5/2009 Where curiosity can lead
2/26/2009 Rockin' the art degree
2/19/2009 Where the art came from
2/12/2009 Get ready for free admission at Currier
2/5/2009 Pottery served with soup
1/29/2009 Wine and desire
1/22/2009 Art for your Valentine
1/15/2009 NHAA shows off at Currier
1/8/2009 Art on the airwaves in Nashua
1/1/2009 Learn to paint or draw
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10/9/2008 Copyright blues
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7/24/2008 Drinking for animals; masters of woodcraft
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7/10/2008 Curtain calls
7/03/2008 The Lambovich Brothers
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6/12/2008 Helping hand
6/5/2008 Sumi-e and photography
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5/22/2008 New Kimball-Jenkins board members
5/15/2008 Making it in New York ... or New Hampshire
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5/1/2008 Art for Mother's Day
4/24/2008 New art walk planned for Manchester
4/17/2008 Awards for the state's artists
4/10/2008 New directions
4/3/2008 New exhibits: no April Art Walk
3/27/2008 Monastary Gibbons "Visions of Monadnock"
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8/23/2007 Berlin pride
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8/2/2007 New Hampshire treasure honored again
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2/1/2007 DreamFarm Cafe's big show
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1/4/2007 Nominate your favorite for Governor's Arts Awards
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09/14/2006 Local†color
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04/27/2006 In-house artists on display
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