ANDERSON — George Abiad compares the process of making furniture to that of assembling a jigsaw puzzle. Each section is carefully cut and pieced together to form a one-of-a-kind creation.
For Abiad, the color, the texture and the grain of the wood is just as important — if not more important — than deciding what furniture to make.
“I choose wood that has life,” Abiad said.
Abiad’s work, along with five other artisans, will be featured at the Anderson Museum of Art in the Furniture Guild of Indiana Artisans exhibit that runs from April 22 to June 10. An opening reception will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. on April 22.
The exhibit will focus on the exceptional quality and craftsmanship furniture made from Indiana’s artisans — Abiad of Anderson, Greg Adams of Lapel, Darin Caldwell of Rome, Peter Falk of Cutler, Andy Cole of Russiaville and Kent Susott of Indianapolis.
Deborah Stapleton, executive director of the Anderson Museum of Art, said they are dedicating two galleries to the Furniture Guild of Indiana Artisans exhibit.
She said people will be able to enjoy a variety of handcrafted and designed furniture from tables and chairs to desks and boxes by six of Indiana’s finest furniture artisans.
“Just a really beautiful, beautiful variety of furnishings, many made from Indiana hardwoods,” Stapleton said.
“Their craftsmanship is just outstanding,” she said. “I don’t think you could find finer craftsmanship anywhere. We have a lot of shows that have two-dimensional work and we wanted to show something that’s made by Hoosiers and is of the finest craftsmanship. We haven’t done anything like this really before, so in terms of a show, this is something new for our audience.”
Most of the artwork in the display will be available for purchase, Stapleton said.
“We think our audience, our community and visitors to Anderson will enjoy seeing these pieces and hopefully envisioning how they could incorporate some of these beautiful pieces in their own environment,” she said. “It’s wonderful to surround oneself by things that are well designed and made to last for generations.”
Gallery hours for the exhibit are from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission to the exhibit is $4 for adults, $2.50 for those 55 and older, $2 for students and children 4 years of age and younger are free. There is also a family admission for two adults and up to four children for $8.
Stapleton said it is amazing to see the innovative and creative ways, while sometimes utilizing the best of time-honored techniques, each of the artisans has chosen to execute his craft, paying close attention to details, creating something of beauty and significance.
Eric Freeman, director of the Indiana Artisans, said people in Indiana have been making furniture for well over 150 years.
“If Indiana is known for one art form, it is furniture,” Freeman said. “There is a piece of furniture called the Hoosier cabinet that was put in log cabins; it’s not made anymore. But that sort of launched Indiana as a furniture-making state. We have a long, long history in furniture making.
“These men are redefining what Indiana-made furniture is, just by the furniture they are making.”
Abiad is originally from Beirut, Lebanon. He moved to Madison County to attend college at Anderson University and only started dabbling in furniture making within the last 15 or 16 years.
“I’m a professional photographer,” Abiad said. “That’s what I’m pretty much known for.”
He said is woodwork started “as a little hobby and took off.
“I have a degree in graphic design so I’m good at design,” he said. “That’s how this whole thing started for me.”
Turning his expert eye to detail, Abiad’s pieces are unique designed with curved edges, not square joints.
“Every piece I make is a custom, new design,” he said. “If I ever redo a piece, I usually try to make it out of a different wood or it’s a different size. I try to never make the same piece twice. People buy them as heirlooms, really.”