Galvanized Chest: Hot Rolled and Found Galvanized Steel by Jim Rose

Off the beaten path in Southern Door County, Jim Rose creates his original metal furniture in a studio which was once the cheese factory of the small town of Kolberg. His pieces of metal Shaker furniture, made with found steel from scrapyards throughout the Midwest, are in collections across the country including the Smithsonian and the Ruth Kohler Arts Center, but the story of this cabinet lies close to home.

dclv10i03-art-scene4-jim-rose-galvinized-chest-KSThe chest was made from parts of a grain elevator purchased from a neighbor’s farm. His neighbor, Earl, was photographed by Rose’s wife, Suzanne, for her black and white photo series titled “In Walking Distance.” After Earl passed away, Rose purchased the grain elevator from the new owners of the property “in the spirit of reusing and recycling materials into something useful.”

Rose, a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, considers himself a craft artist who explores the boundaries between art and craft, while maintaining respect for both. The design on the face of the cabinet alludes to Rose’s interest in the American quilts by the women of Gees Bend, Alabama. The greys, silvers, and rust colors of old galvanized steel are arranged in a traditional “stacked brick” pattern. “There are even some handwritten pencil notes by Earl on some of the strips,” says Rose. The pattern echoes the playful use of color that the Gees Bend quilters employed. And like the Women of Gees Bend, Rose intends his work for daily use.

Rose also cites the influence of the Tramp Art of Adolph Vandertie of Green Bay, also known as the “Grand Duke of Hobo Whittlers.”

“The form of this piece is based on a notched chest of drawers by Vandertie,” says Rose. “I found a certain connection (busyness, laborious and obsessive) between the piecing of the Gees Bend strip quilt and the detailed surface of his work.”

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