Fairfield Features Functional Art

On Thursday, August 21, the Fairfield Art Center in historic downtown Sturgeon Bay will unveil “Michael Doerr: Contemporary Woodworks” in its first-floor Main Gallery. The exhibition will open with a free reception from 6:30 – 8 pm that will include wine from Stone’s Throw Winery, sparkling juices from Door Peninsula Winery and hors d’oeuvres from Cafe Launch, and Doerr will be on hand to visit with guests.

“We’re eager for the community to see Michael’s work, because it emphasizes the fact that art isn’t only meant to hang on a wall or stand on a pedestal,” says Shan Bryan-Hanson, the Fairfield’s artistic director. “Contemporary art can be functional, and even as it is used daily within the home, it constantly communicates the unique vision of its creator.”

Doerr is a self-described “solo studio artisan.” He designs and builds handmade wooden furniture in a variety of unique designs for both residential and commercial purposes.

“There are a number of special characteristics to my work,” he explains. “The selection of individual pieces of wood to enhance the overall design is very important. Another is the flow of the unbroken line that continues throughout the majority of my designs, creating a one-dimensional quality to the overall appearance.”

On completion of each piece, Doerr signs and numbers it according to the year it was created, and he applies a hand-rubbed oil finish.

“What we craft artists do with our hands echoes in time,” he notes. “Through our creations, we commune with artists who have gone before us.”

Over the years, Doerr has worked with wood while building boats, home interiors, furniture and even a play house and forest retreat for his daughter. He says this has led him to become “intoxicated with its existential nature.”

“Wood has taught me patience, honed my abstract thought process and accelerated my creativity, but through the ebb and flow of my relationship to [it], it has also taught me restraint,” he explains. “If not used properly, if I do not honor the way it has grown, there are consequences – structural failure, cracking, warping and distortion of the intended work.”

In conjunction with his new exhibition, Doerr will conduct an artist’s talk in the Fairfield Art Center’s Main Gallery at 6:30 pm on Thursday, September 11. “Michael Doerr: Contemporary Woodworks” will run through Friday, October 10.

The Fairfield Art center is open free to the public from 10 am – 5 pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 am – 8 pm Thursday; and 10 am – 4 pm Saturday.

For more information call 920.746.0001, email [email protected] or visit