Fashion and home decor each seek to make a visual statement

ST. PETERSBURG — Home decoration is and is not similar to fashion.

Is: New themes and color trends surface seasonally.

Not: Buying a purple skirt is one thing; buying a purple sofa is another.

Still, the impulse in both realms is toward beauty and value, along with a desire to translate our essential selves into a visual statement.

As a great accessory can do wonders for plain apparel, so can an interesting fillip create a happy foil to neutral interiors.

For inspiration, consider a visit to "Architectural Details and Other Decorative Crafts," a new exhibition at Florida Craftsmen Gallery. It spotlights artists and craftsmen who create custom pieces that can bring personality and individuality to any space. Architectural details and sculptural accessories are displayed as starting points for inspiration. Even the most ubiquitous and basic elements, this show tells us, can be rethought.

A front door, for example, can be more than an entry point; see it as a visual transition linking exterior to interior, making an aesthetic first impression, as does Larry Roofner's art deco-style stained glass design. Even a wood floor can be more than generic planks; Terry Reeb of Hardwood Specialists displays a sample made of reclaimed red heart pine beams sliced horizontally rather than vertically to reveal their circular grain, arranged in a pattern that resembles carpeting. William Stack of Stack Design banishes the standard overhead light fixture (usually part of a rotating fan combo) in favor of tubes of etched glass that hang like votive candles from the ceiling.

Handmade tables and chairs are beautiful in their own right but can earn their keep as functional, everyday workhorses, from Alex Klahm's lyrical table of wrought iron and glass to David Bradford's curved wood bench.

One of the standouts is a rolling cabinet by glass artist Duncan McClellan. Wood doors on one side are inset with etched glass. The three other sides are made of carved stone tiles. Its top is steel-clad. It could begin an evening as a kitchen work station, be rolled into a dining room as a buffet, then continue into a foyer or living room as a display piece.

Steel and brass sconces by Pierre Haskelson of Artona Metal Art, a large fused glass disc by Catherine Woods and a mosaic by Joshua Johnson of JMJ Design would add bold exclamation points to any wall. Frank Colson's enormous lineup of masklike faces becomes the wall.

I was disappointed that wall treatments were not explored. We all know about murals but what about the possibilities of graphic stencils? Or, as an alternative to wallpaper or paint, a wall design we're beginning to see in shelter magazines, laser-cut from the self-adhering material used by museums for wall texts?

Still, there's plenty to stoke the creative fires here.

And besides, not everything is meant to appeal to everyone. Where would the fun be in that? Designing is, like dressing, a matter of individual taste.

Lennie Bennett can be reached at lennie@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8293.

. if you go

Architectural Details and Other Decorative Crafts

The exhibition is at Florida Craftsmen, 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, through Oct. 31. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Free. (727) 821-7391 or floridacraftsmen.net.

Fashion and home decor each seek to make a visual statement 09/26/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 26, 2008 10:18am]

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