Arts & Culture » Visual Art

Space and Light

Art show explores links between furniture-making and sculpture.



Architectural detailing — whether on furniture, cabinet hinges, electric lighting, or even retail fixtures — often eludes the untrained eye. But it's still an artform, insists local furniture designer Stephen Day, and the East Bay is home to a large community of abstract sculptors who earn their bread and butter making functional objects. Day, who currently lives in a converted loft building that used to house the offices of Mother's Cookies, ekes out a living doing sculptural lighting for businesses and furnishing restaurant interiors. In the past he has designed lab equipment, stamp steel components, and large-scale mass-produced objects, but now he's redirected that sensibility entirely artisan. Still, Day has had a hard time finding galleries who recognize the crossover between furniture-making and sculptural work. He's had to take matters into his own hands.

Day's new exhibit, Bricks and Mortar: Bay Area Sculptural Abstracts — now through November 4 at Oakland's Pro Arts Gallery — features local sculpture artists who use wood and cement as their primary raw materials. Among them is Christopher Loomis, a California College of the Arts MFA who recently opened a sprawling woodshop on the Alameda Naval Base in what used to be a jet-engine-testing facility. His work centers on nomadic objects, Day said, explaining that Loomis uses big building blocks of wood that fit together differently every time he installs them. At Yerba Buena he called the piece "Grow Sound Tree." At Pro Arts he's taken the same blocks and rechristened them "Untitled." Loomis' studiomate Florian Roeper will showcase her dining tables, which juxtapose polished, refined surfaces with raw source materials, creating a narrative that's partly about immigration and partly about development in California. Day's sculptural works consist of concrete, wood, and metal forms illuminated by an electrical light source — the idea being that each piece is both an object occupying space and a thing emitting light into the room.

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