Documentary Video of Local Business Grand Opening Event
DEC 11: TROY OPEN STUDIO RAISES ICARUS TO THE PANTHEON
Furniture Maker Celebrates Name Change from "Icarus" to "Springwood" With Theatrical "Fractured Fairy Tale"
TROY, N.Y. (12/9/14) -- An internationally acclaimed Troy furniture studio will celebrate its new name and ownership with a ceremony of mythological proportions.
Icarus Furniture is now Springwood Studios, an artisanal woodworking shop specializing in high quality hand-made furniture and wood sculpture. To mark the change in name and focus, owner Jim Lewis, 63, will be "Releasing Icarus to the Pantheon" in what he calls a theatrical "Fractured Fairy Tale" in the streets.
"It's a Greek tradition that if you live in a place that is sacred to a mythological figure, you get to tell the story however you want," said Lewis. "Our workshop in Troy, N.Y. was originally named in honor of Icarus, so we get to tell our own myth about him. In our version, he finally retires from Troy and reaches the Gods."
On Thursday, Dec. 11 at 3:30 p.m., Troy officials, neighbors and friends will congregate outside the studio at 154 Fourth St. City leaders will clip wings onto a toga-wearing Icarus idol (baby doll) and hoist it by pulley and line to the skies. A lightning bolt wielding Zeus (in the form of a Springwood intern) will receive Icarus at the top of his flight, and thus the boy who flew too close to the sun will finally enter the pantheon of Gods. If satisfied by the offerings presented to him, Zeus will then "magically" transform the studio sign from "Icarus Furniture" to "Springwood Studios."
The ceremony is a playful nod to studio's former name "Icarus," inspired by the ancient mythological character. It is also the latest in a trend of increasingly theatrical alternative "ribbon cutting" ceremonies in Troy (including sausage links, quesadilla and board cuttings, as well as a miniature cannon blast ceremony).
An open studio at Springwood will follow, from 3:30 p.m. till 8 p.m. with catering by Carmen's Cuban Cafe. The studio will showcase several pieces -- some new, some old favorites -- including a five-petal oak and wenge table in the form of a morning glory; a sculptural desk that looks decidedly like a jellyfish; and a model of Red Bud, a 12 foot-tall dome sculpture that was once in display in Albany's Tricentenniel Park. Photos of Lewis' architectural size plywood domes based on natural forms -- seashells, mushrooms, fruit and flowers and even cabbages -- will be on display during the open studio.
In 1977, Lewis co-founded Icarus Furniture in Troy. In 2010, he bought out his partner and officially changed the studio name. But a major five-year project to create furnishings and a carved mural for Sacred Heart Church in Edinburg, Texas took up most of his focus. After completing that commission, Lewis has been renovating his shop and working with Carmen Gonzalez on her restaurant, Carmen's Cafe. Now, Lewis says, it's time to formally "hang out a shingle" for Springwood Studios.
"One of the reasons for changing the studio name is that I'm slightly adjusting what I do," Lewis said. "I still want to do liturgical and home furnishings, but my focus will be more on the sculptural. My work is furniture that shapes the space. I'm sort of straddling the line between furniture and sculpture, and sometimes touching on architecture."
Lewis' high quality, solid wood furniture has received multiple design awards from Modern Liturgy Magazine and praise from Architectural Digest. He has designed and built pieces for about 80 churches, chapels, synagogues and meditation spaces across the country -- though many are located in the Capital Region.
Due to the large scope of his projects, most of his shows have been in his studio, where he exhibits projects before they are installed.
CHANNELLING TROY'S PAST
A native of Lancaster County, Pa., Lewis grew up on Springwood Farm where his family raised sheep and ducks. He moved to Troy in 1971 and fell in love with the historic architecture.
"There seems something wonderfully classic historic about Troy -- living history. You can feel that it was founded on neoclassical idealism," Lewis said. "It's not just the Victorian but the earlier federal stuff, which seems to refer to an era when you could stop a man on the street and discuss the classics with him."
One Troy figure inspires Lewis in particular: a cabinet maker named Elijah Galusha, who was one of the pioneers of plywood and veneer construction, whose work rivaled the best of his contemporary craftsmen in New York City.
"I like to think I channel Elisha and keep up his tradition," Lewis said, noting that Galusha lived in a house four blocks from Springwood Studios.