Malden artist, Paul Russo, brings the impeccable skills of a restorer and a bold creativity to his work with antique furniture. He describes his work as “Sittable Art,” and his vision transcends traditional interpretation and utilitarian function.
A Lincoln Rocking Chair in his hands is not just a functional object from the 19th century. A Victorian dining room chair, which may have begun its life with a mahogany finish, evolves into an interesting canvas to play with. He envisions completely new possibilities as he works on a piece. He sees the disrepair and deterioration of a chair, table, or other piece of furniture as only one chapter in its story. His respect for original designs and craftsmanship coupled with his creative vision results in a beautiful melding of old and new, conventional and unconventional. Drab and worn-out pieces become vivid and colorful, and speak of the potential for beauty and joy renewed. His work invites reflection as it pays homage to the craftspeople of the past while opening up new possibilities for the present.
Paul’s skill at juxtaposing old and new did not come without years of discipline, study, and an honoring of the past. As the former owner of a popular furniture consignment store in Metro Boston, Paul speaks of beautiful pieces being abandoned or destined for landfill as owners pointed out imperfections and flaws. This casting off of the past did not seem right to Paul. He relates that his life-long love of furniture motivated him to learn ways to restore these abandoned pieces.
This desire to recover and restore, in both the literal and figurative senses, required a commitment to learn more than he had previously known in the areas of wood restoration and painting, upholstery, chair caning and weaving. Through this commitment to the ancient crafts of caning and weaving, he developed skills using various methods and materials: cane, reed, rattan, Danish Modern, Shaker Tape, and rush. In Paul’s own words, when speaking of his work, he says, “I hope you like my unconventional take on taking traditional style furniture and making them much more interesting than before they were destined for landfill.”
If you are interested seeing more of Paul’s pieces, or in arranging custom work which he also does, please stop by on Saturday afternoons from 12 to 2pm at The Gallery in Malden at 480 Main Street. You can also contact Paul at I Cane Chairs on his Facebook Page. Paul can also be contacted at: 781-420-7538.