Eugene Weekly : Visual Art : 9.25.08

Knot A Problem
From clocks to canoes with Splinters
by Suzi Steffen

Woodworkers don’t do a lot of socializing as they work — or so says Drew Parrish, one of the organizers of the Splinters Woodworkers Group. Wait — group? 

Heck, yes. “Marketing, that’s always a stumbling block for professional woodworkers,” Parrish says. But local woodworkers Tim Boyden and Parrish had been talking about getting a sort of guild together for almost a decade, and in February, they decided to give it a shot. The Splinters’ first show has been up since Sept. 5 at 174 W. Broadway, quite close to New Zone (where the Salon des Refusés hangs until Oct. 17) and the multi-roomed Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts. It’s like a little gallery row.

Drew Parish with his Scooby shelf
His Moose Antler Throne by Tim Boyden

Inside the former Blue Luna restaurant, vacant for more than two years, the Splinters group has painted the walls a warm teal. The color’s a bit intense, but that’s not surprising since it comes from one of Boyden’s scavenged cans of paint (see EW’s 2006 Gift Guide for more on Boyden’s uncanny Dumpster diving abilities), and after all, it sets off the variety of deeply polished pieces, made mostly of wood. That may seem obvious (duh! It’s a woodworkers’ show!), but of the group, Boyden especially incorporates a variety of other materials into his works of art. He’s showing a chair made of scavenged musical instruments in the Salon des Refusés, and in the Splinters space, his chairs are magnificent wooden objects, one crowned with moose antlers. His many pieces in this show range from functional to decorative, incorporating what’s tossed away into treasure for the discerning art-lover or chair-sitter.

Along the wall, Letterhead co-owner Ken Herrin has a couple of pieces that sharp-eyed gallery junkies will recognize from his show in the Jacobs Gallery early this year, especially Devil’s Secretary. That’s a fun, surprising conversation piece, but I prefer work like his Journal Entry 1.06.07, which reaches toward collage and shadow boxes, also incorporating quite a bit of found material.

On the beautiful wood front, Seth San Filippo’s salvaged and sustainably harvested lumber slabs show, as Parrish notes, “what the wood looks like before it’s cut into boards.” San Filippo’s tables demonstrate his skill at turning those slabs into gorgeously crafted furniture. There are lots of tables and benches in this show, obviously, from Joe Baiamonte’s charming mushroom-like tables to Rob Simonsen’s massive polished burled wood piece, a table he calls Africa.

San Fillippo’s canoe and Tim Neun’s kayak, taken right off the water, Parrish says, remind viewers that practicality and beauty, form and function, need not be separated. Nor need they be Super Serious. Parrish delights in showing off his bookshelves. If you press in the correct place, part of the top bit turns to become an entertainment center (which leads quickly into a discussion of Scooby Doo, Young Frankenstein and the hidden spaces Parrish likes to build into his work). There’s another hidden space below the screen area — a small space which, Parrish explains, would normally hold some drinkable entertainment. (It’s outfitted now with a blanket to charm the young ones who popped in during and after the Eugene Celebration.)

Parrish says that the group wants to make sure other woodworkers in the area see Splinters as a service to them, and to give the nonwoodworking public a chance to understand wood as an environmentally sustainable art and craft medium. But the Splinters members also hope their temporary space can become something of a rotating showcase for other guilds in the Eugene area — pottery, glass, fiber — to keep the interest of those strolling by. 

There’s far too much work by far too many artists for me to even mention them all by name. See the art in handcraft for yourself, 11 am to 6 pm Thursday through Sunday, through Oct. 3. More info at