In Sporting and Recreation: Furniture, the current exhibit at Ironton Studios and Gallery (3636 Chestnut Place, www.irontonstudios.com), Chase DeForest has a lot of fun adding narrative content to things like sideboards and chairs. The items all reference some kind of leisure activity like a game. But DeForest is also interested in the last hundred years of furniture history, as each piece also recalls a furniture classic or exemplifies a classic type.
The most obvious example of this is the pair of "Hydrorondacks" chairs that were inspired by Adirondack-type garden chairs. Instead of the expected wooden planks, these were constructed from cut-up water skis. On one level, the chairs are functional, meant for sitting, but on another, they tell a story about water-skiing. All by themselves, the water-ski shards bring up the idea of an imaginary lake, and on and on.
DeForest must have done a lot of brainstorming to come up with furniture that plays off volleyball, Ping-Pong, golf and camping, among other pursuits. Some pieces even refer to parlor games, such as "Long Weekend," which has a top made of Scrabble tiles and sliding doors that use panels made from Scrabble boards. One over-the-top work, "Your Turn" (pictured), which looks like a tramp-art twig confection, is a vanity covered in yellow scorekeeping pencils with minute timers used for hardware. "Your Turn" relates to cards in general rather than to a specific game, according to DeForest.
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Sporting and Recreation: Furniture
In a slightly different vein are the outdoor dining chair and matching planter baskets made from garden hoses. For the chair, the hose is woven around a metal frame; for the baskets, it's been bundled by plastic bands. DeForest plans to exhibit an assortment of these hose pieces at the Baltimore American Craft Council show in February. She's also exploring the idea of producing them in limited series.
I guess you could call DeForest's approach here "form follows fiction." (In addition to these whimsical pieces, the artist does straightforward modernist furniture that can be seen at www.chasedeforest.com.) The Ironton show runs through December 15.