A Farewell to Armchairs

Fantastical but functional design makes 'Contemporary Art Furniture' exhibit fit for a dream house

For the dining area of my dream house, which at this point is resembling Windsor Castle, I'd have delivered one of John Cederquist's show-stopping trompe l'oeil chests of drawers, like Steamer Chest IIIor maybe Conservation Chest I. Cederquist, a native Southern Californian steeped in the culture of surfing and the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney, specializes in elaborately painted furniture forms that completely throw the viewer off track. What appear to be cartoony, freestanding paintings reminiscent of Japanese ukiyo-e or woodblock prints of disheveled wood piles, rope-wrapped swordfish beached on wood planks, hissing steam tubes or frothy water cascading down a series of pine boxes are actually cleverly disguised and completely usable chairs, chaise lounges or chests of drawers. The artist enlists an entire forest of tree types to craft these artful pieces -- Baltic birch, Sitka spruce, maple, cherry, basswood, alder and poplar, to name just a few. The grain of all is incorporated into his meticulously executed images, painted with oil-based lithography inks and aniline dyes.

Conservation Chest I (1997) by John Cederquist, Baltic birch plywood, Sika spruce, maple, cherry, epoxy resin inlay, oil-based inks, aniline dye, metal.
Conservation Chest I (1997) by John Cederquist, Baltic birch plywood, Sika spruce, maple, cherry, epoxy resin inlay, oil-based inks, aniline dye, metal.

Details

Continues through June 10. For information call 480-965-2787.
Arizona State University Art Museum at Nelson Fine Arts Center, 10th Street and Mill, Tempe

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Though not technically a part of "Contemporary Art Furniture," artist Tom Eckert's Tank Chair, which is on view in the museum lobby, together with a late-19th-century tramp art desk, would have to be thrown into the shopping basket. Constructed of buttery maple laminate, Eckert's chair sports a wavy, ergonomically designed back and seat; however, its sides perfectly mimic the sprocket-fed wheels of a military tank, rendered exactingly in wood. It would be a divine decorating touch for when I'm in that Ernest Hemingway warmongering state of mind.

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