by LESLIE MINORA/photograph by MEI-CHUN JAU
On a stroll through George Sellers’ Oak Cliff sculpture studio, your eyes will bounce from intricately designed ceiling fragments to a plaster rendition of Lady Gaga’s head to a striking sculpture of a male form with its torso bursting through an engine mount.
Yes, it’s a mix of fine and commercial art, but here, such categories mean nothing.
Among the curiosities, a thin white tree trunk, meant as the base of a floor lamp, drew the interest of David Sutherland, a purveyor of fine furniture with headquarters in Dallas and five more showrooms nationwide. And with that, a collection was born: Sellers’ first pieces for Sutherland — four cocktail tables, two lamps and a larger stump table, all sculpted by a hand as adept as Mother Nature’s — are now on sale in the Dallas, New York and Los Angeles locations. Sellers will also produce individual items for the Dallas showroom.
Sellers has sculpted decorative pieces for Bergdorf Goodman and Van Cleef & Arpels, even Bette Midler. He has refurbished the Highland Park Public Library and the Ca’ d’Zan Ringling mansion in Sarasota, Fla.
The new Sutherland pieces bring home the wonder of Sellers’ studio, where a peek at each project sparks curiosity of how it came to be and how it might be put to use. A small table from the Sutherland collection is the perfect perch for a poolside cocktail; Sellers formulated polymer-infused plaster to endure Dallas heat and storms despite its chalky, fragile appearance. Three of the tables arranged in front of a living-room sofa would make a lovely footrest. Sellers hand-built a form for each item and carved loops to simulate wood-grain. From the original sculptures, Sellers created rubber molds, which he will use to fill individual orders.
The same process will be used for all items, including two lamps with curved bases that would be impossible to mass-produce, as they must be placed into molds precisely by hand.
The pieces, crafted to look like ethereal tree trunks and stumps, are Sellers’ way to “slip in little fine-art moments” in everyday life. Make a rectangular sculpture, call it a bookend, he says. That way, people know what to do with it. The same goes for a table, and on and on …