Oct 22, 2013
08:09 AM
Education

Arts Fund Connects Taft School Students With Master Furniture Maker; Exhibit Open to Public

Arts Fund Connects Taft School Students With Master Furniture Maker; Exhibit Open to Public

A view of the exhibit of works by Woody Mosch of Bethlehem at The Taft School in Watertown.

Private schools are known for providing students with advantages, and one fine example that’s not among the most obvious is currently on display at The Taft School in Watertown.

Among the nation’s top tier of college preparatory boarding and day schools, Taft is blessed with a number of arts endowed funds that yield opportunities and enrichment for students, including the Rockwell Visiting Artists Fund, which was established in 1997 by Sherburne B. Rockwell Jr. (Class of 1941) and H. P. Davis Rockwell (Class of 1944).

This fund, according to Taft’s website, “supports a program of visiting artists [who] speak with students and faculty, work with art classes, and exhibit their work in the Taft Art Gallery. Professional artists involved in painting, drawing, photography, pottery, sculpture, fabric design, printmaking and other visual arts are included in the program.”

The current Rockwell Visiting Artist is a talented neighbor of Taft, furniture designer and maker Woody Mosch of Bethlehem. Through Oct. 28, an exhibit of his work is on view in The Mark W. Potter Gallery, a space that is open to the public.

On Tuesday (Oct. 22), from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mosch was at Taft to give students a construction demonstration in the gallery; he’s in the process of doing the handwork on a small Shaker piece.

“The exhibit I’ve put together for Taft includes a wide variety of work handcrafted over many years,” Mosch said in his artist’s statement for the exhibit.

“The collection demonstrates the broad flexibility of wood itself, which in the craftsman’s hands can be carved, bent, turned, planed, stained, sanded, glued, and hammered,” he wrote. “Sometimes the wood dictates the end result and sometimes the craftsman’s wishes prevail. “And sometimes Mother Nature has her way. It takes years of trial & error to learn how to work with, not against, the natural force … wood shrinks and swells as the seasons and humidity levels change.

“Most of the pieces have been inspired by antiques and constructed in a traditional manner using hand tools for the finish work,” Mosch continued. “Many of the construction techniques I use are the same as those used by early cabinetmakers. The smaller pieces are the true test of a craftsman’s ability and are included to demonstrate the importance of precise joinery. Shaker pieces are especially challenging because there is no embellishment to conceal a slip of the chisel or saw.

“Using the same solid wood construction techniques, I have built a number of pieces recently in a rustic contemporary style meant to display the natural beauty of our local hardwoods. Some are exhibited here for the first time.”

A gallery release elaborated that most of Mosch’s pieces—handcrafted in the traditional styles and construction techniques of the 18th- and 19th-century cabinetmakers—are begun with modern tools and finished with hand tools to replicate the look and feel of the originals. 

“His preference is to reproduce Queen Anne and Shaker styles, but his creativity and ingenuity allow him to construct whatever a client wishes,” the gallery said. “Through his skillful use of hand tools, he matches new paneling seamlessly to antique paneling and creates furniture convincingly similar to treasured antiques. He has great admiration for the simplicity of Shaker designs and has created many kitchen and bathroom cabinets in that style.

Mosch’s work has been chroncled in numerous magazines and newspapers, including Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, The New York Times, and The Litchfield County Times, and museums and galleries in Litchfield County have featured his work.

“Woody’s expertise in fly-fishing, wing-shooting, and cooking brings an extra dimension to his kitchens and to cabinetry for fine sporting equipment,” the gallery said, noting that Mosch’s son Carter joined his studio in 2010.

The gallery is open Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, see Taft’s website or call the school at 860-945-7777

 

Arts Fund Connects Taft School Students With Master Furniture Maker; Exhibit Open to Public

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