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Yale hosts early Rhode Island furniture exhibit

“Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture (1650-1830)” is scheduled to open Aug. 19 at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Conn.

One of a pair of side chairs, from the Mabel Brady Garvin Collection, in the Yale exhibit.

The exhibition, on display through Jan. 8, 2017, will present a comprehensive survey of Rhode Island furniture from the Colonial and early Federal periods, including elaborately carved chairs, high chests, bureau tables and clocks. Drawing together more than 130 exceptional objects from museums, historical societies and private collections, the show highlights major aesthetic innovations developed in the region, according to the gallery.

In addition to iconic and stylish pieces from important centers of production like Providence and Newport, R.I., the exhibition showcases simpler examples made in smaller towns and for export.

The exhibition also addresses the surprisingly broad reach of Rhode Island’s furniture production, from the boom of the export trade at the turn of the 17th century and its steady growth throughout the 18th century to the gradual decline of the handcraft tradition in the 19th century.

The gallery also maintains the Rhode Island Furniture Archive that documents furniture and furniture making in Rhode Island from the time of the first European colonization in 1636 through the early 19th century.

“Bringing together records of surviving furniture, individuals who owned it and known furniture makers, this archive aims to provide a complete account of the specific culture, local variations and artistic practices surrounding the first two centuries of furniture making in Rhode Island” the gallery said in a statement.

Faculty show

Kagen Sound’s “Lotus Box” in the “New Work by Faculty” exhibit.

“New Work by Faculty,” an exhibition of furniture, turned objects, carving and sculpture in wood, is open for the summer at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship’s Messler Gallery in Rockport, Maine. It is scheduled to run through Sept. 14.

All 29 makers represented in the exhibition are current-year instructors at the woodworking school.

Exhibitors include Dixie Biggs of Gainesville, Fla.; Elia Bizzarri of Hillsboro, N.C.; Jim Christiansen of Moscow, Idaho; Chance Coalter of San Diego.; Asher Rodriguez-Dunn of Rumford, R.I.; Ray Finan of Arlington, Vt; Garrett Hack of Thetford Center, Vt.; Reed Hansuld of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Stephen Hatcher of Olympia, Wash; Beth Ireland of Roslindale, Mass.; Clark Kellogg of Houston;, Yuri Kobayashi of Westport Point, Mass.; Mary May of Johns Island, S.C.; Jim Sannerud of Saint Paul, Minn.; Peter Shepard of Harvard, Mass.; Kagen Sound of Denver; and Rich Tannen of Bloomfield, N.Y..

Maine exhibitors are Stephen Gleasner and Tim Rouusseau of Appleton; Jim Macdonald of Burnham; Mac Ray of Damariscotta; Brian Reid of Rockland; Kevin Rodel of Brunswick, and Adam Rogers of Auburn.

International exhibitors are Adrian Ferrazzutti of Canada; Aled Lewis of Wales and Chris Pye of England.


Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, 25 Mill St., Rockport, ME 04856. Tel: 207-594-5611.

Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel St., New Haven CT 06510. Tel: 203-432-0601.

This article originally appeared in the August 2016 issue.

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