May 22, 2009

Sam Maloof dead at 93

Woodworker and designer Sam Maloof died Thursday at his home in Alta Loma. He was 93.

From the Los Angeles Times:
Maloof, whose career began six decades ago just as the American modernism movement was becoming popular, put usefulness before artistry and turned down multimillion-dollar offers to mass-produce his original designs. He worked out of his home workshop, shaping hardwood, one part at a time, into rocking chairs, cradles and hutches that were shorn of unnecessary adornments. ...

"He was trying to make other people appreciate what it was like to live with a handcrafted object in which there was a kind of union between maker, object and owner," said Jeremy Adamson, who wrote "The Furniture of Sam Maloof," published in 2001 to coincide with a retrospective exhibition of Maloof's work at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C.
I remember Sam Maloof from my time at the Claremont Courier. We'd often do stories about him - about his work being displayed in the Smithsonian, when Caltrans moved his house (pictured above) to make way for the 210 Freeway, when his first wife died, when he remarried. He was immensely talented, gracious and always down to earth. He represent an artistic movement and ideal born in the Inland Empire that seem to have been swallowed up by a great suburban sprawl.

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Press-Enterprise

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