Profile

by: Michael Dunas, Sarah Bodine

Jack Larimore makes work like good theater. He sets the scene, draws us into his story and then touches a nerve with his performance. Jack's stage is that nebulous space allotted to "furniture," roughly the immediate area that circumscribes the things we sit on or put things on, that are comfortable and that function to help us go about our daily lives. This stage is a place of interaction, more than just a good spot for chairs and tables. It is a place where the human elements confronts the mechanical, where nature collides with nurture or, when Jack waxes philosophic, where the intuitive animal in us encounters the cage of reason and science.

For Jack, furniture must synthesize—combining a little bit of the natural science of wood, some engineering and some technology with the human need to enter the world with our spirit intact by finding a vehicle to "act out" our personality in the environment of our home.

Jack's furniture generates from a disarming joie de vivre. The titles: "Walking Vessel", "Gift from Tree," "Calla Chairs", "M'Lady's Lilly Table" and "Three for Alchemy Tea at the Tetra" all create a mise-en-scene that is endowed with careful timing and skillful character study. Jack knows how to get the most out of the ritual enactments of daily life. He knows just the right moment to make you aware that you are placing your teacup on the table that resembles one of the most undulating of natural forms, a lily pad, or that as you are walking over to put something on a small foyer table, the table looks like it is actually walking over to you. This moment of self-awareness is intrinsic to every ritual, and it is one in which traditionally ritualistic objects play a catalytic role. It is often said that furniture, at its most elemental, is an elevated surface. The surface takes on the character of how it is elevated, and the elevator—the legs—lends substance to that character. Jack is a leg man. He energizes his pieces by emphasizing the vertical members—skinny table legs, crooked chair-back vertebrae, knock-kneed pedestal risers. These vigorous, wiggling appendages resemble plants, insects, animals. The organic spontaneity allows what the legs support to be improbable—a surface that looks like a split walnut, a severed carcass or a quivering leaf.

Jack like nature. Maybe it's his background in landscape architecture that surfaces—part-building, part-gardening, organic and manmade, part-transient and part-permanent, inside and outside—a theater of time and incident, sometimes under control and sometimes as fickle as the wind.