Function + Art is the second attempt at realizing the vision of its founder, D. Scott Patria. That’s me. In 1992, I attended an opening for students of Detroit’s Center for Creative Studies (now College of...); it proved to be a life-changing experience. There before me, a disillusioned engineering graduate was the perfect blend of form & function… of aesthetics and ergonomics…
I thought it was the coolest stuff on the planet, and deserved to be seen. That the public needed to KNOW about this stuff – that they had options. That you could incorporate art into your daily environment in a way beyond traditional paintings and sculpture. That you could in fact, USE your sculpture!
The first effort, Gallery: FunctionArt, began in 1993 in the heart of downtown Pontiac, MI along “Gallery Row", and quickly become recognized as one of the nation’s leading galleries specializing in Studio Furniture and fine Decorative Craft. We showed student work, established artists, emerging artists… and even the work of folks who refused to be called artists. We carried glass, and jewelry, a little turned wood, gifts, even paintings... but always featured this fantastic, useable sculptural stuff I later learned was called Studio Furniture.
We spent the first 8 years learning. About people, about art, about good design… and about business. And we nearly made it. We had, for a brief shinning moment, created a solid core of galleries in Pontiac –most focused on Craft, a few more traditional fine-art based... though most of us weren’t worrying about labels. We all just shared a passion for beautiful creative product. But the heady days of 1996-98, when opening nights saw literally thousands of attendees, gradually waned as we lost gallery after gallery to attrition. By September 2001, there were only a few of us left, and on Sept. 12, I decided it all meant very little in light of the previous day’s events. Within a month, the gallery was closed.
But passion is a powerful thing. I’m reminded of a song by The Rainmakers (www.rainmakers.com), one of my favorite bands… a verse of which goes:
“Two dreams make the world go ‘round,
the One you’ve lost
and the One you think you’ve found”
I had two main passions at the time. I still loved Studio Furniture (and glass, and other objects), and I loved Chicago. Had for years. I’d spent the year prior to 9-11 looking for space in Chicago, and had pretty much given up. After a winter of teaching skiing (another passion) and loyal clients and friends offering their support, I was reenergized. I happened to find a reasonably sized (and priced) space on Fulton Market in the funky West Loop area, (which we thought had such great energy)… and we moved in and opened to almost no fanfare, in May of 2002.
We do things a little differently now. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, we mainly concentrate on my first love, Studio Furniture. We represent some of the best makers to be found who are still relatively affordable. We are much smaller, much more focused – on the artist, the work, and on you the client. Oh sure, we have a few ceramists, and a couple painters, but we’re really about helping you discover your furniture options… about handcrafted excellence… about having a personal connection to your *stuff*. If we can’t find just what you’re looking for, we can have custom made for you. And you should, you know. You should LOVE your furniture, your surroundings… your home. As William Morris (http://www.morrissociety.org/) said: "have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful".
As for Glass, because we’d already built such an extensive knowledge (and client) base, we opened a sister gallery in 2004: PRISM Contemporary Glass. But that’s another website story. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist)