Anzfer Farms, a collaboration between Jonathan Anzalone and Joseph Ferriso, produces handmade furniture with an emphasis on reclaimed wood, strong design, and unexpected moments of color in familiar forms. In the current Park Life gallery show Holz, Anzalone and Ferriso exhibit works from their separate artistic practices along with items from the Anzfer Farms showroom. Whether the show achieves its advertised goal of becoming a “unified work, a house of construction” is debatable, but more interesting than that, it offers insight as to how two very different artistic styles can merge into concrete and usable forms.
At first glimpse, Anzalone’s practice appears more directly connected to the often highly finished Anzfer Farms output than Ferriso’s paintings are. Using bits and pieces of painted wood to create relief works and assemblages, Anzalone’s pieces exhibit a formal quality with well-considered color and shape. Many works are obviously connected to furniture construction, including a framed grouping of used sand paper, titled Grit, and the piece By-product, a cluster of painted squares of wood, slices of checkered inlays, and general detritus seemingly scooped off the wood shop floor.
In comparison to Anzalone’s works, Ferriso’s paintings are imprecise and goofy, but refreshingly so. Ferriso applies paint loosely, seemingly straight out of the tube, imbuing each piece with a sense of immediacy. Chicken S.P., a shaped panel with spray painted edges and a thick arc of lavender above a skeptical eye, embodies the jokey quality present throughout his contributions to Holz.
Ferriso’s paintings seem to fly in direct contrast to Anzalone’s more subdued colors and careful surface treatment. That is, until two paintings hanging side by side assert their centrality to this collaboration. Facing the exhibition’s entrance, Anzalone’s Mirage hangs next to Ferriso’s Bowling Ball. In this perfect pairing of the artists’ individual styles, both works contain angular and segmented zones of color that morph into fragmented “landscapes,” creating two spaces very much like the gallery they inhabit.
The furniture reflects these shared qualities as well: beautiful woodwork is punctuated by bright, often fluorescent highlights that fracture and disrupt the familiar shape of an item. The walls of the gallery, painted ochre, lavender, rose, kelly green, and bright cyan, operate as larger versions of the solid-colored panes in both the wall works and furniture. Separate sets of furniture are placed within each color zone, resembling staged groupings. It is here that the show feels more like a catalog suggestion for how one’s own home might be decorated than an experiment in Bauhaus design.
Instead of offering seating for viewing the walls, the furniture faces itself. This drives home the point that the furniture is on display too, not just positioned to facilitate a different vantage point for the wall works. Though Holz is at its essence a three-part show, I couldn’t help but wonder what furniture for art viewing might look like coming from the Anzfer Farms showroom.
The closest I could imagine was their lock and key chair (of which there are several examples in the show, both assembled and disassembled). Two shaped pieces of wood slide together to create a surprisingly comfortable seat that necessitates leaning back in a moment of forced relaxation. No good for intense conversations, this chair would do well positioned directly in front of any work of art you’d like to spend quality time observing. But to do so, you’ll have to try the setup in your own home, and after a few purchases.
Holz is on view at Park Life through May 6, 2012. For more information, visit parklifestore.com.