An earlier meaning of “fresco” is: the art of painting on freshly spread moist lime plaster with water-based pigments.
Since, the meaning has broadened to mean color in plaster. Or, in the plaster not on it.
Since the mid 80’s I’ve been painting parts of my original design furniture or ‘functional art objects’ in one way or another. I began by using automotive lacquer and then by mixing artist’s pigments with acrylic mediums and applying them in various ways. Often I’d paint either the inside or the outside of my container forms to add contrast to veneered surfaces. This was intended to add an element of surprise.
For fifteen years I would also construct picture frames and paint them with artist’s acrylics using several techniques to approximate the effects of ultra violet damage, wind, rain and time on abandoned truck fenders, gates and other painted surfaces in the desert southwest.
Eventually I was persuaded to forgo the center piercing and approach the picture plane with the techniques I’d developed painting utilitarian objects. Initially I continued using artist’s acrylic, but have for years largely employed dry oxides and earth pigments, calcium carbonate (marble or chalk dust) and artist’s acrylic medium.
FUNCTIONAL ART OBJECTS
Simultaneously art object and functional furniture, the creations of studio furniture craftsman Lynn Sweet provoke as much curiosity as fine sculpture. Whether cabinet, chair or table, each piece has been crafted with such informed design and detailed attention that it invites further inspection. Sweet is continually experimenting with design techniques and unusual finishes that involve the viewer both visually & tactually. These furnishings are a pleasure to see, touch & use.
Lynn has been making furniture since the early 70s. He first worked with the late Charles Wilson Kelly of Versailles, KY, where he learned to make antiques. 17th & 18th century English chairs & cabinets were disassembled, blueprinted, & used as models to build exact copies, which Kelly sold as reproductions in his Fine Antiques Gallery.
As Museum Technician for the Kentucky Historical Society, Sweet worked with the Old State Capital Restoration Project and later the evolving exhibits of the Kentucky History Museum, Frankfort, KY. During this time he continued coping antiques although the artists need to continually push an idea prompted variations on historic designs, exploring the use of both old & new elements in commissions for a variety of clients.
For the two decades since then Sweet has been on staff in the Art Studio Area of the University of Kentucky Department of Art. His study of many sources of design are apparent in his work. Just as in good contemporary painting and sculpture, the influence of the past can be read in Sweet’s creations.
Though his earlier work expressed his interest in neo-classicism, for some time now a large influence on Sweets meticulous and sophisticated furniture can be found in the work displayed in the Paris Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes Exhibit of 1925, (a style better known today as Art Deco) and in the forms of the International Style and Modernist architecture.
Perhaps Sweets signature style, a new Modernism or Neo-Modernism, is best seen in the impeccable craftsmanship of surfaces & techniques that he employs to make the wood plastic. He is constantly investigating ways to process the material, creating unusual bends, multi-dimensional curves and forms. A variety of veneers, domestic & imported, are used as well as unique polychrome (multi-color) finishes. Granite, glass, cast bronze, steel and other durable materials are also employed with sensitivity. Often interiors of his case goods reveal a surprising visual treasure in high contrast to the exterior surface.
This is a personal scale architecture; alternative forms that focus on detail, surface treatment and intersection of line and volume, hand produced furniture that caters to a wide range of evolving lifestyles and to the needs of those who live them. These functional art objects perform in home and office with sophistication & elegance. Through a career that spans four decades Sweet has developed a body of furniture that bears up physically and aesthetically to the passage of time.
Neo-Modern Furniture, Art Furniture, Functional Art Objects or Studio Craftsman furniture, no matter how he might refer to it, the nomenclature cant conceal the artists love and reverence for form, design, process, and material.
Lynn Sweet is a staff instructor at the University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts in the Department of Art’s Studio Area, and the Department of Art’s Fine Arts Institute. His work is in many private and public collections and he has exhibited in many galleries and shows in the United States and Europe.