Tayloe Piggott

Furniture designed by Chris Lehrecke will be displayed alongside jewelry created by his wife, Gabriella Kiss, starting Friday at Tayloe Piggott Gallery. The artists will attend a reception at the gallery from 6 to 8 that evening.

People who frequent contemporary art galleries generally know what to expect when they visit one: paintings, sculpture, works on and of paper, and perhaps some installation art or a video piece.

It’s less likely to find furniture exhibited as fine art, but that’s exactly what you’ll see in “Designing with Nature,” a new showroom in Tayloe Piggott Gallery’s Project Space. That space will act as a venue for provisional exhibitions and an ongoing showroom for furniture designer Chris Lehrecke’s nature-inspired work. Longtime gallery-represented jeweler Gabriella Kiss, who, incidentally, is married to Lehrecke, will feature her work alongside the furniture maker’s during the first week of the showroom’s operation.

“Designing with Nature” will open Friday with a reception for the artists from 5 to 8 p.m., and stay up until July 22. Kiss’ work will be shown until June 19.

“The answer is obvious when you see the furniture: It’s art,” said Maya Frodeman, the gallery’s director of marketing and public relations, when asked why it decided to diverge from the status quo and exhibit Lehrecke’s work. “It’s all completely original, handmade pieces.”

Indeed, both Lehrecke and Kiss bring a one-of-a-kind sensibility to their work.

From their home in upstate New York the artists draw from the natural world. For Lehrecke, a veteran designer represented by Ralph Pucci International in New York City, that means using several varieties of native wood that grow near the couple’s home. He hand-forms that raw material into minimal pieces that are spare and geometric while maintaining an organic depth and richness.

Kiss forages for interesting or overlooked items on junkets around the couple’s property, casting animal bones or small assemblages of sticks and twigs into radiant, delicate, almost animate pieces that, as stated by a press release, “personify [such things as] snakes, wasps, ants and bees, highlighting the subtle splendor of living creatures.”

“Gabriella is a very personal artist,” Frodeman said, describing how Kiss has a talent for finding inspiration in even the humblest natural phenomena.

Read the full story about the new Tayloe Piggott showroom in this week's Scene section.

Contact Gisele Olson via 732-7062 or entertainment@jhnewsandguide.com.

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