Ellen Fure Smith may be best known for her role in creating the parklet seating in downtown Bowling Green.
The laminated furniture artist will be showing off her totality of talent while exhibiting at Gallery 131 this holiday season. She will also be at the season opening reception on Saturday.
Fure Smith, with Little Bare Furniture, started working with laminated wood while in art school. She began with basic commercial plywood, but the art quickly evolved.
She has been creating her tables, chairs, planters and pots for eight years. They have her own lamination style that highlights the lamentations, which are often accented by non-laminated hardwoods.
“I make traditional furniture with a modern spin on it. I love to use plywood because most people think of plywood in a totally different way, and I like to push that medium outside the expected,” Fure Smith said. “I can make cabinets, or whatever, but I can use laminations for texture and I can push it with such a linear material, to get really organic shapes.
“I celebrate it. Those tables, over there, are really reversed sticks of plywood,” she said.
The end tables she pointed out will be at the Saturday opening. The expected corners are all curved, in a piece that looks like solid laminated block, yet the laminations are a mini-melange of parquet flooring, with many, many laminations.
“I started working with laminations in art school,” Fure Smith said. “My professor told me I had to make something that I didn’t know what it would look like in the end. I was frustrated and didn’t want to spend any money on it, so I went and bought a sheet of plywood. I made a carved gossip bench. It unlocked a whole new perspective for me for furniture.”
She was working with mahogany, and everything was very angular. Meanwhile, she had been studying furniture artist Sam Maloof, who had made plywood furniture. That bench became one of her favorite pieces.
“I felt like it was this weird serendipitous return, because I had been doing all this research on this man,” Fure Smith said. “It was this humbling moment.”
That project changed the course of her life.
Fure Smith will be one of the 10 artists at the Gallery 131 reception. Each of the local artists, from Wood and Lucas counties, has been featured at the gallery during the past year.
“We’re hoping to showcase a bunch of local artists,” Gallery 131 owner Andrew Gilliatt said. “Last year’s holiday opening reception was our first show. These are the highlights from the last year of shows.”
Featured works will be from Little Bare Furniture, Sloans & Stones, Gilliatt Ceramics, 60 Watt Funnel, Joan Clare Brown, Michael Lorsung, Dinu Gavris, Meghan Yarnell, Lindsay Scypta and Tim Spurchise.
Gallery 131 is located at 131 W. Wooster St. Starting on Small Business Saturday, which is Nov. 26, hours will be Saturdays 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. and by appointment. Questions can be directed to Andrew Gilliatt, [email protected]
The Gallery 131 Opening Reception is Saturday from 5-9 p.m.