2012-06-06 / Arts and Entertainment

ArtFull Living Kicks Off Showcase

By Annie Chesnut


Designer Chuck Burleigh along with artists Ada Cruz, Kaija Korpijaakko, and Jaanika Peerna, in the bedroom on which they collaborated. 
Annie Chesnut Designer Chuck Burleigh along with artists Ada Cruz, Kaija Korpijaakko, and Jaanika Peerna, in the bedroom on which they collaborated. Annie Chesnut One of my favorite things about western Putnam County is that it’s hard to go anywhere without brushing shoulders with a genuine artist. Painters, sculptors, musicians, writers, photographers, designers, composers, filmmakers, theater people—you name it, they’re here.

And whenever they come together in one setting, it’s especially exciting.

So it was on Saturday evening at Glassbury Court, on Route 9 in Philipstown, when the ArtFull Living showcase hosted a gala gathering in advance of its June 3 public opening.

Putnam County was well represented.

Lake Peekskill-based artist Ada Cruz was there to celebrate the inclusion of a number of her ceramic sculptures, and other work, into the fantastical transformation of an empty, 21st century townhouse into a living piece of art. With Cruz was Garrison-based designer Chuck Burleigh, who along with his husband, former decorator and now antiques dealer Lithgow Osborne, also participated in the project.

We spent time chatting during a pre-gala gathering in the master bedroom that Burleigh designed. Burleigh, who hails from Boston but trained at Parsons in Manhattan, was remarkably relaxed considering that the next day he was co-chairing an auction at Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center, where he serves on the board of directors.

Burleigh said his inspiration for the bedroom he designed “really came from the artists….there were about three or four that I really connected with,” he said.

He visited Kaija Korpijaakko’s studio and saw a mini-collection of paper cylinders, which inspired the birch-bark lighting fixture in the showhouse bedroom. At Ada Cruz’s ceramics studio at The Hat Factory, he was captivated by Cruz’s figures, and decided to incorporate a group of them, standing on a console attached to one wall. “The whole room is very airy and almost light, and I thought that they would help ground the room,” Burleigh said.

Asked what he hoped to achieve with this show, Burleigh said he wasn’t sure whether to “go mass market or do something for me…and I thought, ‘Let’s just go for it.” Artist Jaanika Peerna’s wall drawings were a risk, he said, because she had never done that type of thing before. But working with Burleigh, they both achieved what they had hoped for. The Jessica Wickham bed is locally sourced black walnut—“two huge planks literally resting on concrete blocks,” Burleigh said. Vertical planks that make up the headboard are attached to the wall.

At the end of the show, which runs through September 9, there will, of course, be a massive move-out of whatever art and furnishings remain. But Burleigh said that moving in was the real challenge, particularly in his bedroom, the floor of which is covered with “a $20,000 silk rug, made in Tibet,” that needed to be protected.

And of the other designers, whose work touched him the most? Burleigh said Maryann Syrek’s adult playroom appealed to him because he could visualize himself relaxing and enjoying himself there.

Will Burleigh work with more of these artists in the future? “I would love to,” he said.

ArtFull Living (see PCN&R “Art-Full Living, at Glassbury Court,” 5/23/12) is one of those dynamic exhibits that merits repeat visits.

One aim is that the one-of-a-kind pieces on display there—from small canvas paintings to fused glass wall ornaments to a monstrous wooden bed, and much more—will be sold to eager buyers.

But another is that visitors will recognize that what we call “art” can be an active part of our daily lives, supporting as well as enhancing the time we spend at home.

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