Tom Loeser: Please Please Please
February 2 – May 12, 2019
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
4848 Main Street, Houston, TX 77002
Friday, February 1, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
The evening will also feature open studios by the current resident artists. Beer generously provided by Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co.
Hours & Admission
Open Wednesday – Saturday, 10 AM – 5 PM, and Sunday, 12 – 5 PM.
Admission is free. Closed major holidays.
(HOUSTON, TX) November 7, 2018 — This spring, in partnership with the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) presents Tom Loeser: Please Please Please, a traveling exhibition of the Wisconsin-based maker and designer’s imaginative furniture and works on paper. The playful show encourages viewers to shake up their habits and interact with the environment and one another, while considering issues such as body posture and etiquette that are often taken for granted. Loeser’s work also raises a clever question: “If the furniture we sit on every day were totally different, would our lives be different, too?”
Guest curated by Glenn Adamson, Please Please Please reimagines what furniture can be by juxtaposing the artist’s furniture with his series of pyrographs and cyanotype prints. “In making this exhibition,” says Adamson, “we have been inspired by Loeser’s way of turning furniture upside-down and inside-out. This is partly about understanding the medium’s full potential, and partly about sheer enjoyment. It’s a show that children and adults alike will love.”
Loeser’s exploration of unconventional furniture forms began in the early 1980s with Folding Chairs, his series of colorful, postmodern chairs that double as wall-hung art. With this body of work, the artist intended to highlight the distinction between functional and formal considerations. Thirty years later, Loeser is still investigating the balance between form and function, with furniture made by joining antique tools—including parts of scythes, shovels, and pitchforks—with natural timber slabs. This “tool handle” series speaks to the union of tool and material that underlies all forms of craftsmanship, while referencing past studio furniture masters like George Nakashima and J.B. Blunk.
The artist’s recent series, New York/Chicago/LA, features three tumblers that have been beautifully carved, painted, and upholstered with felt or dyed leather. Made in collaboration with Paris-trained upholsterer, Matthew Nafranowicz, of The Straight Thread in Madison, Wisconsin, the tumblers’ soft felt surfaces and reinforced corners allow every side to be rolled around and sat upon. The name of the series references the city skyline of the three largest American cities, recognizing the tumblers’ variations in height when arranged at will. Visitors are invited to test out the tumblers, creating, in Loeser’s words, their own “micro-community of sitters.”
Loeser’s playful experimentation in reference to furniture can also be found in his works on paper. By using a selection of chair-shaped metal brands to “burn” images into paper, he created a series of pyrographs. These pieces place emphasis on the physical gesture of embossing and scorching, while his series of cyanotype prints contain ghost-like silhouettes of his small, handmade furniture forms.
As presented together in the exhibition, Loeser’s inventive furniture and works on paper form an engaging show that appeals to all ages on multiple levels. The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated publication with essays by Glenn Adamson and Stephen Knott, author of Amateur Craft and Theory.
Tom Loeser: Please Please Please is co-presented by Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and the Museum of Craft and Design and curated by Glenn Adamson.
About Tom Loeser
Tom Loeser designs and builds one-of-a-kind functional and dysfunctional objects that are based on the history of design and object-making as a starting point for developing new form and meaning. He has been head of the wood/furniture area in the Department of Art at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, since 1991. He holds a BA from Haverford College, a BFA from Boston University, and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Loeser is the recipient of four Visual Artist Fellowship Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and an NEA Creative Artist Exchange Fellowship. His work has been featured in many national and international exhibitions and is in the collections of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (New York, NY); Museum of Arts and Design (New York, NY); Rhode Island School of Design Museum (Providence, RI); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX); and many other institutions. He was elected to the American Craft Council College of Fellows in 2012.
About Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is a nonprofit visual arts center dedicated to advancing education about the process, product, and history of craft. HCCC provides exhibition, retail, and studio spaces to support the work of local and national artists and serves as a resource for artists, educators, and the community at large.
Located in the Museum District at 4848 Main Street, HCCC is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 AM – 5 PM, and Sunday, 12 – 5 PM. Holidays: Closed Easter, July 4th, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Admission is free. Free parking is available directly behind the facility, off Rosedale and Travis Street. HCCC is three blocks south of Wheeler Ave. MetroRail station on Main Street.
HCCC is supported by individual donors and members and funded in part by The Brown Foundation; Houston Endowment, Inc.; the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance; Texas Commission on the Arts; the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kinder Foundation; the Morgan Foundation; Windgate Charitable Foundation; and the Wortham Foundation. HCCC is a member of the Houston Museum District and the Midtown Arts District.
For more information, call 713-529-4848 or visit www.crafthouston.org. Find HCCC on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @CraftHouston.