James A. Michener Art Museum

Paul Evans Crossing Boundaries & Crafting Modernism

the artist and his work

Diversifying and Expanding
During The Sixties

In 1964 Evans joined forces with the Directional Furniture company, an association that significantly altered the nature and scope of his furniture production over the next fifteen years. With increasing sales from Directional, in 1965 he opened a shop dedicated to the production of his Directional lines in Lambertville, New Jersey, and he added up to eighteen employees. His early lines for Directional combined patinated steel and cladding in a series numbered PE 11-43, which included end tables in the Copper, Bronze and Pewter technique (cat. 49) as well as Argente cube tables (cat. 51) and armoire cabinets (cat. 52).

Fig. 7 Paul Evans, Screen, Sculptures in the Fields series, welded and etched aluminum, colored pigments, and patinated metal frame, 1968, 85 x 41 x 22 inches. Courtesy of Dorsey Reading

Evans maintained his studio on Aquetong Road, and by the mid-1960s (196364), he was experimenting with a new technique: welded and enameled aluminum sculpture and furniture. He used this technique to create a series of sculptures known at the time as Sculptures in the Fields (fig. 7). He introduced the new "Argente" technique in a ca. 1966 show devoted to his work in America House's new Collector's Room, where he described the process by which he transformed aluminum into a metal with the look of sterling:

Most aluminum is annodized [sic] which gives it a flat look. Mine is done in a different manner and I am still working on the technique. This is a whole new approach to aluminum and these pieces I created for America House are my first approach to this metal which has a great future because it fits with the mood and designs for many of today's architects. Essentially it takes to furniture-making because of its sculptural potentials... 10

Produced mostly for Directional from 1968 into the early seventies, the Argente line demonstrably highlights the shop's innovative treatment of surfaces in its incorporation of dark and light elements, etched decorative patterns, and bold dynamic welding seams. An acetylene torch was used in the Argente series to heat the metal and physically melt the aluminum so that it pooled into textured surface patterns that flowed in the direction of the flame.

Directional sought innovative design that could be associated with traditional values, and Evans answered the demand with his Sculpted Bronze series. As early as 1965, George Fry began working with Evans to develop the Sculpted Bronze technique, which involved applying epoxy resin over a plywood base or steel frame. The resin was then sculpted in a freehand form, sandblasted, and coated with atomized bronze. Evans used the Sculpted Bronze technique mainly for his Directional work. Popular forms crafted in this technique for Directional were his sculpted bronze disc bars (cat. 53, 55). He also used the technique to craft such unique studio sculptural works as the Cat Cabinet (cat. 54) for his wife, Bunny.

10 Paul Evans quoted in "Paul Evans Introduced New Concepts and Adaptations of Furniture in Metal"; America House Shows New Collection, America House press release, n.d., n.p., Dorsey Reading Collection.
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Paul Evans: Crossing Boundaries & Crafting Modernism has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Additional generous support has been provided by Rago Arts and Auction Center.

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