Monday, May 10, 2010

Rockin' Wendell Castle at Barry Friedman Gallery



UPDATE March 2014: Great article about Wendell's latest freestylin' furniture

FOR once at a gallery opening, it was obvious who the artist was.

On the wall:  a photo of a bearded gent sporting Kermit-on-acid green spectacles and a pinstriped jacket.  Floating around the room was a person matching that exact picture. Bingo!

I've always thought the artist should always wear a sash or button at his/her reception saying "Ask me about my art!" I guarantee that "is there artist here?" is the #1 thought bubble at these openings. He or she is not necessarily the nouveau Warhol in the shredded jeans and impossibly pointy boots, or the artsy one in the middle of a huddle. And it's embarrassing to think you just wandered blithely past him/her or worse, asking where the restroom is.

But I digress. Wendell Castle's exhibition at Barry Friedman gallery featured "12, unique stack-laminated wood chairs", hand carved by this 77-year old craftsman at the top of his game. Currently based in Rochester, NY, his work is in "more than 40 museums around the world .... including the Met, MOMA and Smithsonian."

Wow, sure beats retirement on social security!

Maddenly, teasingly, a little card placed in the dishy part of each chair said simply, "Do Not Sit." Oh, how we were secretly dying to plant our butts on those sensuous, sinuous sillas ...

I managed to hijack Wendell for a nanomoment and asked if he might consider including a plywood demo model in future shows to satisfy the public's need to touch. He looked at me quizzically - I guess his work is so popular, despite the high price tag, there's clearly no need to "demo".  How high? The above seat, finished in an outerworldly ink blue was my favorite, and "around $65,000".


The two chairs below evoke the title of the show - be a rockin' Conehead! 



I rather liked the Philippe Starck-esque drawer above. Though it would need to remain permanently ajar like so, and permanently empty, for full effect ...






Barry Friedman Gallery
515 West 26th St
New York, NY, 10011
212 239 8600
www.barryfriedmanltd.com

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