In mid-October I had the opportunity to attend Makers Market, an open-air display of artisans’ work held at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut. DJ Carey, a longtime friend of Dujardin Design, is the talented editorial director of Connecticut Cottages and Gardens Magazine and served on the host committee, which made this event a must-see for me. The artisans presented in this three-day celebration of the arts offered an inspiring look at what’s being created in modern design, covering everything from furniture to candles, jewelry to ceramics, and more.
Wendell Castle, father of the Art Furniture Movement
The highlight of the day for me was the chance to meet “the father of the art furniture movement,” Wendell Castle. The Aldrich Museum has curated an exhibit of the modern furniture designer’s stunning work, and as the first major exhibition by Mr. Castle in more than 20 years, you shouldn’t miss it! The exhibit coincides with Mr. Castle’s 80th birthday; he’s been creating unique pieces of handmade sculpture and furniture for over five decades.
(He reminded me of my father’s brother, Uncle Willie, a furniture designer in the East Village for many years who gave me my first wooden paint box that I carried all through high school, college and graduate school, and taught me so much about design.)
His pieces are bold and graceful, often organic, and are crafted from beautiful hardwoods, plastics, veneers and metals in a timeless contemporary style. The pieces selected for the Aldrich exhibition were chosen for the narrative they tell about his work. Almost all of them were hailed as revolutionary in changing the way we look at furniture. He was one of a group of designers who were recognized in the mid-twentieth century as important to the growing studio craft movement. Today, his masterpieces are fast becoming some of the most coveted examples of twentieth century design.
Wandering Forms–Works from 1959-1979 is at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum until February 24, 2013. If you haven’t been to the Aldrich yet, or if it’s been a while since you visited, don’t miss this chance to see a museum nationally known for curating outstanding new art and cultivating emerging artists.
Larry Aldrich (1906-2001) opened the museum in 1964 as one of the country’s first museums devoted exclusively to the exhibition of contemporary art. Today, the mission of the museum is to advance creative thinking by connecting today’s artists with individuals and communities in unexpected and stimulating ways. The building itself, located in a historic district with colonial roots, was built in 2003 and based on an abstraction of traditional New England architecture. The white clapboard and granite museum is a beautiful addition to the original “Old Hundred” building, built in 1783, where Mr. Aldrich first housed his extensive art collection.
A visit to the property and the exhibition would make a wonderful day out in Connecticut–I hope you’ll go!