Gallery NAGA stages the first of a two exhibitions based on British woodworker David Savage’s book “Furniture With Soul.” The first part celebrates established furniture makers, such as Boston’s own Judy Kensley McKie, and John Makepeace, one of Britain’s great wood designers, whose “Zebra Cabinets” (above) are a feat of marquetry and wit. That’s right – those stripes are not painted on; they are snugly fitted together sections of black oak and holly. And the interior, which you don’t have a clue about until you open the cabinet, is lacquered fire-engine red: Shazam! Gallery director Meg White told me how scarce studio furniture galleries are; most of these artists work on private commissions. Plus, the field is regional, with the area between Boston and Providence being particularly fertile ground, and California, with much of the U.S. otherwise uninterested.
Also in this week’s galleries column, Morgan Bulkeley‘s paintings, wacky and wry and full of social commentary about the havoc humanity wreaks upon this earth, are taking an interesting turn in his new show at Howard Yezerski Gallery. The commentary is still there, and the chaos – in paintings in which he strews everything all over the field. But he’s also making works with a different, more focused composition, such as “Unfinished Hogan” on the right, in which a pair of his nutty figures embrace under a shelter built of branches and sketches. Works such as these are less commentary and more delightful surrender to the great unknowns of the artist’s own imagination. Finally, Galeria Cubana hosts three artists in the group show “Ritual,” all of whom examine ritual in their Cuban culture, especially with regard to the Santeria religion, and also the rituals involved in art-making. Isolina Limonta, Luis Eliades Rodríguez, and Jose Manuel Mederos Sigler all start with pattern, which sometimes miraculous busts out into narrative.