In 1996 i found out about an exhibition called "Artists of the White House Collection" at del Mano (this probably was inspired by this collection). The degree of creativity and craftmanship presented by the works, especially wood, in the show just blew me away. I realized that so many museum-quality works are being made in the so-called 'craft' area and yet not presented by museums or more widely publicized. One of my favorites was a rocking chair by Sam Maloof, whom i had a chance to see quite frequently years later.
That beautiful exhibition began my interest and quest in checking out new works in wood whenever i could and del Mano became my frequent stop. I later found out that del Mano has been one of the oldest and most prestigious galleries specialized in wood in the country. It has been opened since 1973. The gallery represents not only artists in the US but all over the world and the people there work hard to find and represent the best, imho.
Going to del Mano has been an inspiring and educational experience for me and i have learned a lot from Ray Leier, one of the owners of the gallery. He has been so kind to share with me information about the artists, what makes each work stand out, how to look for and appreciate the craftmanship along with the beauty of the wood itself.
Ray Leier wrote many books on wood with the co-owner of the gallery Jan Peters. He also did the narration for the excellent DVD set "Beyond wood ... portrait of an artist" which is a series of interviews with some of the best wood artists in the world in their working environment and what prompted them to produce certain pieces. I love it! :-)
Through del Mano i have a chance to appreciate wonderful works by:
Sam Maloof (organic and elegant furniture)
Bert Marsh (very thin-wall, simple yet stylish and refined bowls that show off the best in wood color and grain)
Hans Weissflog (the amazing 'ball box' and spiderweb-like design)
David Ellsworth (miniature 'spirit' vessels)
Ron Fleming (bowls in forms inspired by leaves, plants)
William Hunter(works inspired by the flow of water)
Binh Pho (intricate carving bowls with multi-color theme)
Ron Kent (extraordinary showing the translucent quality of wood)
and by many other artists for the exquisite forms and techniques
del Mano has many special annual exhibitions thoughout the year. "Turned & Sculptured Wood" features impressive new works but my favorite is "Turned Wood - Small Treasures" since small works required more dexterity, imho. A visit to del Mano is always an eye-opening experience.
The gallery now operates online.
Interview with Ray Leier and Jan Peters