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Java Folk Art Furniture Book

by Susi, 22 July 2008

The enigmatic David Smith (left). A tobacco roller\'s chair from the David Smith Collection (right).

My old friend David Smith is an enigmatic character who divides his time between three islands: Bali, Java and Vashon Island near Seattle. His business is furniture, and he’s been collecting antiques in Java for 20 years. As the supply of antiques in the field dwindled, David shifted his focus to furniture making. He has a workshop in the historic town of Blitar in East Java with about 100 local workers crafting furniture for his retail showroom in Seattle and for contract clients.

During two decades of antique-hunting in Java, David has been setting aside his favourite finds for his own enjoyment and has amassed an astounding collection. The pieces he prefers are folk-art furniture from the Ponorogo area, and this is his collection’s strongest suit. He is currently preparing an enormous coffee table book on the collection, to be published in 2009. Art dealer and author Bruce Carpenter is working on the text now.

The Puget Sound Business Journal ran an article on David last month, with a nice portrait, in which he looks – – as ever – – enigmatic.

Photos Dan Schlatter

    2 Comments


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      • September 28, 2008

      I'm thrilled by the actualization that this book is coming to fruition. Though I've reached, I've never met David -- but I'm expecting that somehow, someday, that alignment will concur. Amazing commitment, the man, the vision. What I'm curious about is the idea of the village, the community, the gathering of people -- together, to bring that craft from there, their place of making, to here. What legacy, what contribution, could be more profound -- telling the story of one culture, enabling the craft of their "making", extending that story to another shore -- and spreading the beauty of that "manufacture". Sweet, that suite of dream. Wondrous. Tim Girvin | http://www.girvin.com | http://www.tim.girvin.com/ | http://blog.girvin.com/ | http://tim.girvin.com/Entries/index.php | girvin@girvin.com

    • Thrilled to say, the book had been printed, and we are hosting the launch at our new gallery in Seminyak Bali on 3 December at 6:30pm. The launch marks the opening of an exhibition of important 18th and 19th century works of art from the David Smith Collection. The exhibition, "The Back of Beyond: Javanese Village Materpieces" will continue through 19 January. Contact me for further information.

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