Artist makes functional items from industrial detritus


November 10, 1991|By Linda Lowe Morris

One look at David Hess' chair -- a sort of lounge chair made out of an old farm plow, a metal frame and some copper strips -- and you know it's making a statement. Maybe it's saying something about how we look at things, maybe something about the intrinsic value of what we throw away, maybe something about seeing things in new ways in a new aesthetic context, maybe . . .

"I don't want to get too philosophical here," he says. "I just pick something up and I'm struck with it and then I start from there."

What David Hess picks up are things other people have rejected: plows grown rusty, bicycles tarnished and broken, wood weathered by time, old bowling balls.

He takes these things and begins building something functional with them and around them. A rocking horse and a lawn mower become a table, a car hood becomes a desk, a bicycle becomes a lamp, a piano becomes a bed.

"It's like solving a puzzle when somebody hands you the pieces. To start from the material, something from the junkyard, then put it in the center and design from there," he says.

Currently 15 pieces of his art furniture are on exhibit at Galerie Francaise et ses freres, a gallery that opened last year in Green Spring Station.

In his earlier work Mr. Hess created Shaker-style furniture out of rebar and metal strips. Now his pieces are by necessity one of a kind.

"It may look heavy and it may be heavy, but everything's really comfortable," he says. "It's basically sculpture that serves a function.

The show -- a joint show with sculptor Leonard Streckfus, who also uses found materials -- runs through Dec. 8.

Galerie Francoise et ses freres is located in Green Spring Station at the intersection of Falls Road and Joppa Road in Lutherville. The telephone number is (410) 337-2787.

The telephone number of David Hess' studio in Hampden is (410) 467-8242.

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