Tag Archives: Wood

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Patrick Kana

For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to the idea of making things with my hands. I started as a child in my father’s basement workshop making carefully assembled model boats and planes, and over the last 15 years continued to gravitate toward working with wood as my primary creative practice.

Patrick Kana working in his studio

Patrick Kana working in his studio

I grew up on the coastal eastern shore of Maryland as a son of two marine biologists, and these influences remain at the forefront of my experimental woodworking today. I am currently the studio technician and visiting faculty for the Art and Architecture Department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY, and have my independent business and studio: Kana Studios.

Finished texture and form exploring biological specimens.

Finished texture and form exploring biological specimens.

My work ranges in appearance and context, from fine client-based commissioned furniture to sculptural and carved objects that are grounded in my curiosity of the natural world. All of my work is experimental on some degree, by testing and exploring what certain specimens of wood can provide, how form integrates with the material, and how surface texture and color can enhance the gesture of the piece.

Development of Geneva Chair, 2012.  Mock-up before final production.

Development of Geneva Chair, 2012. Mock-up before final production.

The collection of work currently on view at Main Street Arts is more about showing the spectrum of my work rather than honing in on one central theme. The Geneva Chairs were my first long-term design and research project in 2012 that yielded a user-friendly and intriguing product for the masses, while keeping the material use and construction process efficient in my workshop. These are designed to be made in multiples, which contrasts well to the inherently one-of-a-kind carved wall vessel, Nascent, a piece that is designed and made using one specific piece of wood.

Organic development of Nascent.  Arranging free-form parts until I am drawn to a pleasing composition.

Organic development of “Nascent”, arranging free-form parts until I am drawn to a pleasing composition.

"Nascent" by Patrick Kana

“Nascent” by Patrick Kana

As my work has progressed over the last 5 years, I have found more intrigue in curves and contours of surfaces, as seen in the reed-like curves on the back of my Palea Chair, where multiple laminated slats combine to generate a contoured, gestured, and most importantly comfortable back to the chair.

Sketch developments of Palea Chair.

Sketch developments of Palea Chair.

Sketch refinement of Palea Chair.

Sketch refinement of Palea Chair.

Mock-up development of Palea Chair.

Mock-up development of Palea Chair.

"Palea Chair" by Patrick Kana

“Palea Chair” by Patrick Kana

My outlook on making is one that is central to understanding material. I want to learn the deep characteristics of wood—it is a seductive material in its natural state, tempting to simply sand and leave smooth, but I challenge myself to look at the raw material with a curiosity of what is within, or what it wants to become. I believe that through a range of working methods, we gain a more thorough understanding of medium, and in return we become stronger designers and artists.


Patrick Kana is one of eight gallery artists represented by Main Street Arts. He is featured in the exhibition CULTIVATE which runs April 7 through May 18, 2018. More information about Patrick and his work can be found on our website. View more pieces by Patrick Kana on the gallery’s Artsy page.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jerry Alonzo: Learning New Stuff

Feeling energized, having just returned from two weeks in Colorado at Anderson Ranch Arts Center.  I drove out from Geneseo, NY and caught up with friends along the way.

James and Gail

James and Gail

I went there to spend time with a sculptor whose work I greatly admire, James Surls.

The course was “Critical Dialog in Sculpture”  which is exactly what the six of us did most of the time.  I’ll remember James’ intro on day one.  It was intended to quickly dispatch the let’s learn from the master mentality and did.  It went something like this “It makes no difference how we as artists got into this sculpture studio; front door, back door or bathroom window.  We are all here, all artists, so let’s get to work.”  We talked about our work, his work and each others’.  What we do, why and how we do it, and what’s next.

With Melissa and Richard

With Melissa and Richard

In the off hours my classmates (all of whom worked in metal) moved various projects forward.

Gail and Joyce

Carmen

Being a wood guy in a metals studio, it took me a few days to figure out how to benefit from all the metal working expertise  around me.  The studio coordinator taught me the basics of cutting steel with a plasma torch and how to press it into a bowl form.

Plasma torch

Press

While I’m used to coaxing and persuading wood to do certain things,  I found that torch cutting with lots of sparks flying and pressing (way too gentle a word) steel into submission was a lot of fun.  I completed a quick piece I called “Offering and Receiving”.

Offering and Receiving

Offering and Receiving

I brought home to my studio a larger 12″ bowl with only a vague plan for it.  A few days after returning to Geneseo I was thinking about a friend who is ill and how a jolly piece might serve as a spirit lifter.  I decided to make this bowl into a table into which words of greeting, good wishes and encouragement could be collected and shared.  I  plan to donate it to an auction supporting medical research in my friends honor.

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Stop by Main Street Arts to see Jerry Alonzo’s sculptures in our current exhibition House and Home (runs through August 19). View his work online at www.jerryalonzo.com

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Susan Stuart.