Dolf James' MOCA Installation

Engine 15

by Jack Diablo
Are you sitting down? What are you sitting in, an office chair, barstool, recliner, rocking chair? Do you have a favorite chair or do you have fond memories of one that made you feel a certain way to sit in it?
These are not questions we ask ourselves on a daily basis. For the most part, the majority of us would probably only go so far as to comment on whether a chair was comfortable or not and fail to consider the significance of the apparatus upon which we seat ourselves.
Local artist Dolf James has a mind to change the way you perceive the common chair. “I believe chairs hold an enormous amount of information that we seldom actually think about,” he says of his upcoming chair-themed installation in the Atrium Gallery at MOCA. Consider all the different types of chairs to be found; from lawn chairs to thrones, Louis XV style armchairs to your father’s La-Z-Boy. “A chair reveals information about the available materials and craftsmanship of a time and place. It can talk about hierarchy, political status, wealth and power.”
Chair design, as with nearly all industrial design, is an art-form oft overlooked and taken for granted. Even something as seemingly mundane as a simple piece of furniture requires vision and creativity with the added burden of providing a structural function. Dolf’s work forces the observer to take a second, third, fourth look at an object that is found in every room of every house and every building. “To do this, I have designed a very simple, iconic shape that represents a chair, or all chairs,” Dolf explains. “These icons are presented ‘out of context.’ They are sliced, tilted, melted and hung in ways that create complex angles, compound vectors and multiple visual presentations all from the starting point of an extremely simplistic chair icon.”
Although he is no stranger to using chairs in such a fashion, this installation is on a far larger scale than anything he has attempted before. Dolf was one of the visionaries behind the highly successful “Imagination Squared” installation and has been focusing his efforts on the “This is a Cool Place” campaign through the ArtInStrangePlaces Facebook Page and working in his Riverside studio.
The installation begins January 17th with a members-only opening on January 20th. It will coincide with the opening of an exhibit upstairs showcasing the history of the chair in America over the past 200 years.