Dan Pohl never intended to be a furniture artist. He'd studied drawing and painting at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and collected folk and outsider art for nearly 30 years. He began making furniture ten years ago to display his collection, and became intrigued by the way the furniture could become almost sculptural and canvas-like; he found he enjoyed creating surfaces that engage the eye with movement and color. Pohl says he loosely bases his forms on classic Early American furniture, though the finished pieces are something he's not seen before a mix of classic and contemporary, with an aura of timeless charm.
Pohl works from his home studio in central Wisconsin, using traditional cabinetry techniques, mortise and tenon joints, and dove-tailed drawers. Most of the pine and poplar he uses comes from the woods outside his back door. After milling, Pohl planes each board and commences construction. It is at this point that a rhythm seems to suggest itself as he is turning spindles and building the body of the piece. Pohl works to bring that rhythm out for all the world to see.
The painting of the piece is where Pohl's experience as an oil painter takes center stage. He applies layers of traditional paints, made of powdered pigments, corn syrup, and vinegar, over a primed and detailed base layer, increasing the complexity of the designs until a kaleidoscope of colors emerges to greet the waiting eye. He then applies a shellac and finishes the pieces by combing the interiors with swirls of paint. The overall finish seems bright, but also somehow subtle.
Pohl likes to think of his finished pieces as "functional art" rather than "furniture," as his work doesn't seem to sit in a room so much as breathe and, he hopes, inspire. Pohl wants his work to look as if it could come alive.
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