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Transcendental Furniture

May 10 - July 16, 2022


I summon the word 'transcendental' not for the many mystical meanings put upon it over time, but for the elegant and powerful way it expresses the ability of something to surpass others of its kind. It is an inspiring word that speaks of visionary evolution, of ways to see beyond and go beyond known precedents.

This exhibition represents a new phase in the distilling of the founding vision of the gallery; harnessing the synergy between an object’s ability to physically do something while simultaneously meaning something. A painting means something (aesthetically, conceptually) and a cabinet does something (it holds things), but their respective achievements are not mutually exclusive. I seek to manifest the intersection of conceptual and physical power.

We have built art as a tool to find ways to think differently about our world, gradually, we have been learning anew to explicitly apply that power to the objects we interact with in our daily lives. I say ‘anew’ advisedly as the marriage of object and idea is an old one - shells as currency symbolizing value, jewelry as a manifestation of currency. The difference between the ancient and the contemporary iteration of this marriage is not only the sophistication of the ideas and objects involved, but also in the mindful application of the strategy for the purpose of analysis. Seurat & Signac were mindful in the construction of their Pointillist paintings, as was Duchamp with his readymades, and yet the fruit of their analysis remained trapped in a self-referential dialogue about what art can be. With Transcendental design, this dialogue becomes open and accessible to the real world on its own terms, in its natural format, as objects we interact with.

In the past century, modernism suffocated the strategy of intertwining functional forms with ideas. Mass market objects do not associate well with subtle, complex, and individualistic expression. The long march that began on the road to the Bauhaus ended on the superhighway in front of Ikea. Along the way, it obscured the modest meander of William Morris, Siegfried Bing, the Wiener Werkstätte, and Black Mountain College as they slowly filled the reservoir of the Studio Craft Movement. While Big Box design may be pragmatic, it is banal. When given the opportunity, it is in our nature to crave the novelty that ubiquity smothers. Transcending the known is our perpetual temptation.

Whether the 'known' is represented by furniture, a painting, a ring, or a vase, it becomes Transcendental by virtue of exceeding the mere function of the form, while still respecting it. A Transcendental Object communicates ideas, it tells a story, it grabs meaning from the ether and makes it real in the form of an object that has both a physical function. While it conforms to the convention of functional typologies, it is nonetheless inherently idiosyncratic as it is an expression of a personal vision. More often than not, it is hopeful, it aspires to inspire, occasionally to warn, but it always springs from the desire of the maker, the dreamer, to share a vision, to make their fantasy real, to shape the world in their image, one object at a time.

History has seen this same phantasm wander in and out of focus before – often at moments of peak productivity and, of course, when there are vast accumulated riches to support it. In our recent history there has been the Baroque era, Art Nouveau, and Surrealism. This force is having a powerful resurgence through the integration of craft and design thinking by people who trained professionally as artists, during a very sheltered and indulgent moment in history, and fueled by patrons who are the beneficiaries of disproportionate accumulations of wealth. The means of production exist, the patron class is primed, now may the wind of this exhibition charge the course of this nascent wave.

- Damon Crain




Exhibiting Work By

Elyse Graham, USA (CA)
Jian Yoo, KR
Judit Just Antelo, USA/SP
Neelam Padte, USA (NJ)
Peeta Tinay, USA (CA)
Rachel David, USA (NC)
Carl Durkow, USA (PA)
Jonatan Nilsson, SW
Luke Proctor, USA (WI)
Trey Jones, USA (VA)



Inventory #1946
Luke Proctor, USA
Landscape Cabinet, Alice Chalmers Orange, 2022
Hand forged steel, cold rolled steel, wax, Alice Chalmers Orange paint.
90cm.H x 183W x 50D / 35.5in.H x 72W x 19.75D