Turning Wood into Art: The Jane and Arthur Mason Collection

By Suzanne Ramljak; Michael W. Monroe et al. | Go to book overview

for the first time the famous Moulthrop holding tanks where rough turned bowls were stored in a secret solution of polyethyl glycerine (PEG) to prevent cracking in the drying process.

Ed showed us his current work, and we asked if he ever sold from the home rather than exclusively through galleries. He said then, as he does today, that he appreciates his galleries and respects their efforts on his behalf. He told me that Jimmy Carter had called up some time back and asked to buy a piece and he had obliged. Then he mentioned that Aga Khan and David Rockefeller had also visited with the same result. So we felt incredibly light-headed when he said, "I don't know why I shouldn't sell you a piece as well." We did acquire a classic globe piece of tulipwood (plate 69), which became a cornerstone of the collection. Since then we have bought Moulthrops from most galleries that show his work.

This story raises the question of the role of the gallery in the wood-turning field. Those who have supported the field have been indispensable to its growth and development: Martha Connell in Atlanta, Georgia; Mike Mendelson in Washington Depot, Connecticut; Joanne Rapp in Scottsdale, Arizona; Veena Singh of Sansar in Washington, D.C.; Del Mano ( Ray Leier and Jan Peters) in Los Angeles, California; Janis Wetsman in Detroit, Michigan; and John Sherman of Creations in Wilmington, Delaware. Recent newcomers have been Barry Friedman in New York City and Duane Reed in St. Louis, Missouri. Other settings such as Gump's in San Francisco and Heller Gallery, a noted glass gallery in New York, should also be noted. The development of the field requires a strong gallery structure. We are blessed with good people in this area but more are needed. While we often buy directly from artists or craft shows, we make a point of supporting the galleries with about half of our purchases.

Continuing on our trip to Atlanta, we heard about the Great American Gallery run by Martha Connell. There we had a field day as we saw our first works by fine artists such as Rude Osolnik, Bruce Mitchell, and John Whitehead. Rude and Bruce have become our good friends, and we have seen much of them since. Most of the artists represented in the collection have been to our home and/or we have been to their studios. We are reminded of this as we reminisce, and we realize as we gather the names for this catalogue how much they and their families have come to mean to us. It would endlessly prolong this memoir if we were to detail the wonderful times we have had with each of our wood-turning friends.

By this time we had acquired maybe thirty pieces. In February 1987 we embarked on a trip that was to double the collection. We went to Hawaii to visit friends, but, as they have noted many times since, we did not really visit with them. We ended up hunting down turners in every cranny of the islands. One of the most unusual was Glen Williams, who lived in a carport on Captain Cook Inlet in Kona with his girlfriend. The sides of his home were blankets.

We flew over to Honolulu to meet one of the giants in the wood-turning field -- Ron Kent, and his wife, Myra. Ron is a stockbroker who then turned in his spare time. He has been very successful using Norfolk Island pine almost exclusively. His very thin bowls, soaked in a special oil, glow with a seductive translucency. Ron's work is probably in more collections than that of any other turner. He uses only a few forms, but they are simple and appealing. Ron is also a great merchandiser. We were captivated to learn that the chalice piece we loved was not available because the pope had first call. Is that merchandising? It was matched many years later by Liam O'Neill when he offered us a piece from the same tree that produced a bowl that the president of Ireland gave to the queen of England (plate 81). We bought two major pieces from Ron that trip. He gave us several novelty items from his studio, including a "worry" egg that acts something like the steel balls in the hands of Captain Queeg, except it is too heavy. If you drop it, you are sure to break a toe.

-12-

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Turning Wood into Art: The Jane and Arthur Mason Collection
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Foreword and Acknowledgments 6
  • Preface 9
  • The First Year 11
  • As the World Turns: Wood Turning in an Expanded Context 17
  • A Passion for Wood: the Jane and Arthur Mason Collection 33
  • Notes 46
  • Cataloque of the Exhibition 47
  • Checklist of the Exhibition 194
  • Selected Bibliography 197
  • Biographies of the Artists 199
  • Index 207
  • Photograph Credits 208
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