Selecting "Best of Show" awards at the San Diego "Design in Wood" exhibition on behalf of Woodwork and American Woodwork was a challenge. As I described in my last blog, the process for choosing the winner in the Furniture category was made somewhat easier because at least all the contenders were furniture…and there were only four (already selected as "First" in their category—Contemporary, Traditional, Art, or Marquetry—by other judges) to choose from. When it came to the "Not Furniture" category, there were twenty pieces, and they were really different from each other! Here's a taste of what I had to consider:
Nathan Anderson's "Acoustic Guitar"
Joe Satake's "Pintail" woodcarving
Mike Jackofsky's set of three "Hollow Form" woodturnings
Joe Bompensiero's scale model of the "S/V San Salvador"
William M. Churchill Jr.'s "Impala Crossing" woodcarving
Jeff Herring's "The Overland Trail" intarsia
Frank Andrew's hollow form woodturning "Ready for Liftoff"
Richard Henderson's "Scrap or 2", a full-size functioning sea kayak
You get the idea…and these were just a third of what I had to choose from. How to decide? In the Furniture award, my process was to compare similar things and find differences…small points at which one piece would ascend or descend compared to the others. In the Non Furniture award, my process was to look at dissimilar things and try to find something that would distinguish one above all the rest. But looking at some of the more common standards, such as degree of difficulty or quality of execution, were not by themselves going to produce a winner…there were just too many well-made objects for that. In the end, the quality that I went looking for was Elegance. I know, and I am the first to admit it—that's a somewhat elusive and pretty subjective quality. And truth be told, another juror might very well have chosen differently than me. However, I had no doubts about the piece I chose. It was extremely challenging to do, impeccably made, and the elegance of its pattern and design…to my eye…rose above everything else in the show.
Here it is, my pick for "Best of Show" in the Non Furniture category:
Patrice Lejeune's "Treasure Box", a creation using the "Painting in Wood" style of marquetry that dates back to 17th-century France.