Category: Art I Love

Magnificent Brazilian Sculptures from Hugo Franca

By , October 19, 2011


Hugo Franca : New Work


Recently, I was looking for a very organic wooden bowl for a client’s coffee table on the screened in porch.  I came across an amazing artist that made me forget all about wooden bowls.  I saw a couple of his sofa-style root carvings and fell in love.  I contacted the  R20th Century Gallery  in New York which represents him. It turns out that they are having a show of his work right now.

The extraordinary artist is  Hugo França  from Brazil, and his new exhibit is a series of carved Casulos, or “cocoons,” from Pequi and Imbuia coarse woody debris and roots that he scavenges from the felled trees of the  Brazilian forest.

Hugo França’s sculptures showcase his deep connection with the organic, fluid shapes of the tree. This admiration undoubtedly stems from the fifteen years he spent in the jungles of northeastern Brazil, where he learned woodworking techniques from the indigenous people of Bahia.


Casulo Cariru" in pequi wood.
“Casulo Cariru” in pequi wood.
"Casulo Cariru" in pequi wood.
The inside view of “Casulo Cariru” in pequi wood.


“For me, it is an exercise of directing my eye,” França says, “trying to recognize and work with the forms already outlined there, and finding a functionality in those forms.”

His work reveals a powerful appreciation for the cycles of nature, by uniting the natural elements of the tree with his creative process, and presenting it back into the human environment. Take a look at this video of the progression from tree to organic sculpture.




França’s pieces encompass the observer, forcing us to experience the aliveness and natural energy of Brazil’s exquisite natural resource. França brings the viewer inside these intriguing massive “cocoons” so we may experience directly the textures and natural designs of the tree, to “create an organic space of retreat and contemplation.”



“The temperature is different, the sounds are different, the smell and texture are unique,” says França. “This direct contact generates empathy and encourages a bonding experience between man and nature.”




If you are in New York,  visit his exhibition where it will be featured from October 5th – November 5th.  Until then, I will curb my craving with these pictures of his striking furniture. I can just imagine the gorgeous natural colors and contours of the wood bringing warmth and texture into a scenic lakeside cabin.

And more good news about Franca, he still makes very large (36″ across)  and wonderful wooden bowls.


This Spaghetti Looks Good Enough to Eat

By , July 27, 2011

I can imagine this sitting in front of a garden wall with a beautifully trained vine growing next to it, repeating the flow of the wood. Magic!

Pablo Reinoso is a French-Argentine artist and designer and has lived and worked in Paris since 1979.  His work is currently being featured at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in London.  The gallery describes the exhibition in this way: “Nature overcomes inanimate objects, resurrecting life and philosophical thought into everyday items.”  Reinoso’s multicultural background ignites his interest in finding the links between different cultures.   His work is acutely linked to the human condition, “All his works radiate strong human feelings, like traces of people that have been made visible,” Juliette Faliu, Malakoff, June 2003.

Reinoso’s latest piece, Spaghetti Bench (pictured above), hopes to inspire emotion and memory with each observer.  He says, “Everyone has sat on a bench like this, some have been kissed on one, other have waited for their kid on one, they are common to everybody.”

Here is another bench made out of steel

Wouldn’t this be wonderful on the estate I am working on in Woodside?   What do you say, Woodside?

Take a moment to visit the Carpenters Workshop Gallery online.   Take a look at some of the other artists represented there as well, including Ingrid Donat.  I have been following her for several years.  She creates exquisite bronze tables and terrific lamps.  I want a table from her NOW!

Eric Zener’s “Tree Series”

By , July 26, 2011

Eric Zener is an amazing, self-taught painter. He was born in 1966 in Astoria, Oregon, but was raised along the California coast in Encinitas.   Interestingly, after college Zener traveled the world for two years, bartering his paintings for room and board.  In 1991, Zener moved to San Francisco, where his mother was previously a violinist for the San Francisco Symphony. His paintings have been showcased worldwide and have won numerous awards.  His art has also been widely featured in publications such as Harper’s Magazine, Travel and Leisure, Traditional Homes, and American Art Collector.

Zener’s works are so detailed and vibrant that they appear to be photographs until you take a close-up look.  Then, the paintings are boldly painted using heavy paint and brushy strokes, almost like an impressionistic piece.  The style is intriguing. He calls this style of painting “Contemporary Renaissance.”

I had the privilege of visiting his exhibition at the Hespe Gallery in San Francisco recently, and I was in awe of his new exhibit, “Tree Series.”  Take a look at some of his striking pieces from the exhibit:

This last piece is a bit of a departure for him.  He had just finished it before the show.  It was oil on canvas, with an  1/8″ of  space then a layer of glass.  The glass was reversed painted with the fire, giving incredible depth and aliveness to the piece. You can learn more about Eric Zener and see samples of his work here.

San Francisco Art Fairs

By , June 6, 2011

Until 2010, Art Fairs had been missing from the San Francisco scene for 10 years.  The weekend of May 20-23 brought an abundance of art fairs to San Francisco.  Before that, there had been a big fair for a number of years at Fort Mason.  I missed it in those years, as it was an opportunity to take clients to see hundreds of galleries all in one weekend.

The ArtMrkt, the Fine Arts Fair, and Art Pad all held wonderful shows..

As many of you  know, one of my secret  passions  in my design work is to include contemporary art in all of my projects, whether the project is classical or more contemporary.   It gives the home a feeling of creative energy that can  inspire the family and friends to open up more to the pleasure that is available from exploring  an artist’s creations.  It gives me such joy to place wonderful, energetic pieces within an appreciative environment.

.Below  are some of the pieces I especially liked at the fairs this year.  Click on the links to learn more about the artists.

This is a charming piece consisting of painting, cut paper and wood by Mark Fox, shown by  Love the whimsy!



This  lovely smaller sculpture from Cain Schulte Gallery is by Jessica Drenk.  Although it looks like wood, it is actually carved out of books that were soaked in hot wax. Yes, really!



An impressive piece was this one by Brazilian artist Maria Bonomi from Transarte Brazil.  This is a woodblock print on heavy Nepalese paper.  This print took the very high honor of First Place in the Venice Biennale 2009 for print work.  At 106” wide it is grand and strong.



This monolithic piece stood approximately 110” high and was 24” x 24”.  Enlarge it to see the detail.  It is from a very established Korean artist named Jae Hyo Lee.  His medium is  scorched wood in 2 styles.  This style, which is covered with steel nails inserted in to it.

The other style is this:

This large chair is  45” in diameter, perfectly shaped to sit in comfortably. You can visit his very large website to see his amazing, very  large scale pieces.   His work is available at two American galleries with links on his website.   For me, his work was the most memorable  of the entire weekend.



This piece is from 1962 by Shirley Goldfarb.  The brush work and colors are charming.  It is from a gallery that I hadn’t heard of before, Gallery Sam in Berkeley.  The owner is Evan Morganstein and he had several nice pieces.  While the gallery is open by appointment only, most of his collection is viewable on



This is another piece from the same gallery.  I liked it because it reminded me of Klee.  It is by  Robert Jay Wolff titled, “Galaxy” , 1953.   He was a well-known abstract artist from the 1930’s -1970’s.



I got to see several paintings by Wolf Khan, an artist I have admired for many years.  Seeing five of his landscapes,  in shades of purples, blues,  pinks and yellows  at once was a thrill.  Wonderful colors and a great liveliness pervade his work.  The gallery that showed his work, Jerald Melberg Gallery had other classics, like Motherwell, de Kooning, etc.  It is always good to see the masters and to remember again why they are so important.



This painting moved me with its exceptional qualities of simplicity, accomplished techniques and quiet aliveness.  The artist is Pat Steir and the gallery is Leanne Hull Fine Art.   This piece was large at 84” x 60”.  Observing it at length, I could almost hear the sound of the waterfall and feel the mist on my face.  It was really lovely.


All in all:  The fairs were Enchanting!

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