The term "starving artist" is real enough that in its nearly five-year existence, Lux Art Institute has never had an artist fail to show up for one of its residency programs.
But this month, South Korean-born artist Lila Jang was unable to honor her commitment to live and work onsite at the Encinitas gallery because of a family emergency and a large art project she's working on in Seoul.
So while Jang's whimsical Baroque-inspired furniture pieces arrived for a seven-week exhibition at Lux last week, she did not. And while it's hoped that she'll be able to come in February, it's not clear when she will arrive, according to Lux spokeswoman Grace Madamba.
But because Lux is a living exhibit space ---- meaning artists live and work on the property creating site-specific pieces under the watchful eyes of museum visitors ---- the staff has invited three local artists to come and work in the studio during January in Jang's absence.
Encinitas craftsman Paul Henry was the first to arrive last Thursday. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays though Feb. 4, Henry will be in-studio carving and veneering a gueridon (a small round table with three legs) of basswood and myrtle burl veneer using traditional 18th-century woodcarving techniques. Henry has taught furniture design and history at Palomar College for 15 years and has operated a furniture and art studio in Carlsbad Village for 30 years.
"While at Lux, I plan to continue a line of work that explores the sensuous lines of the French Rococo," Henry said. "I will be using traditional 18th-century techniques not out of nostalgia, but because I believe them to be the best ... and I hope that the actual form is inspired by the fabulous work of Lila Jang."
On Jan. 19, Encinitas artist Kim MacConnel will transform a "found" piece of furniture into something in his signature style. MacConnel was an influential artist in the Pattern and Decoration Movement of the 1970s and his work is known for its bold and colorful zig-zags, polka dots, triangles and sketches of everyday objects. The retired UC San Diego art professor has worked in the local art scene for the past 30 years and counts among his influences Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.
And from Jan. 26-28, San Diego artist Jennifer Anderson will be making chairs out of grass and wax that reflect her fascination with change and transition.
Anderson is a studio furniture maker and teaches woodworking, art and design at several local colleges. The grass and wax chairs are part of her Material Series, which she said was inspired both by her love for the "simplicity and complexity" of chairs and her interest in working with new materials.
The series features five identical chairs made from five different materials: wood, mud, grass, wax and bronze. The wood chair represents the history and tradition of furniture-making. The grass and mud chairs, which will dry, crack and decay with time, represent fragility. And the wax and bronze chairs are perfect opposites ---- a wax casting mold process is used to make the bronze chair, and where one is light and breakable, the other is heavy and permanent.