Furniture Maker Retreat @ Monson Arts: Summary

The Maine Crafts Association is pleased to partner with Monson Arts to offer a  four-day retreat and planning session for twelve of Maine’s experienced and emerging furniture makers to develop ideas for new work and build community. The retreat takes place on the Monson Arts campus, in Monson, Maine June 9 – 12, 2022.

The makers will participate in presentations and dedicated studio time and are provided with room & board as well as a $200 stipend thanks to the partnership with Monson Arts and funding from The Belvedere Fund for Handcrafts.

Retreat Presenters

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Rosanne Somerson

Rosanne Somerson is a woodworker, furniture designer/maker, educator, and former President of Rhode Island School of Design. An artist connected with the early years of studio furniture, her work and career have been influential to the field. Somerson has maintained a full-time professional studio practice, Rosanne Somerson Furniture, since 1979 designing and building furniture for exhibition and by commission.

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Matt Hutton

Matt Hutton was instrumental in establishing MECA&D’s nationally recognized Woodworking and Furniture Design Program at MECA&D. His work is inspired by the idea of nostalgia, independency/dependency, fossils, barns, grain silos, and other architectural elements that have interest in mass, volume and gravity.

He constructed his own 650 square‐foot studio, called STUDIO 24b, in 2009.

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 John Tatko

John Tatko represents the fourth generation of a family business now known as Sheldon Slate Products.  John, his parents, and his brother Peter all work for the company which has quarries and plants in Monson, Maine and New York state.  While New York focuses on roof tile production, everything made at Sheldon Slate in Monson is a custom product. John’s interest in custom work dovetailed with the reemergence of slate sinks and countertops in high-end kitchens, products that take a level of craftsmanship similar to building a piece of fine furniture.

Retreat Participants: Twelve Maine Furniture Makers

Furniture Maker Retreat @ Monson Arts: Preliminary Itinerary

Thursday June 9th
2:00 Arrival / Registration / Accommodations / Self Tour / Settle in / Prepare for Presentations
4:00 Welcome to Monson Arts, and Presentator Talks with Rosanne Somerson & Matt Hutton (@ Tenney House)
6:00 Dinner
7:00 Four 15-min Participant Presentations (1 of 3) (@ Tenney House)

Friday June 10th
7:00 Morning Walk (meet @ Tenney House)
8:00 Breakfast
9:00 Four 15-min Participant Presentations (2 of 3) (@ Tenney House)
10:00 Studio time with Rosanne Somerson
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Four 15-min Participant Presentations (3 of 3) (@ Tenney House)
2:30 Studio time with Rosanne Somerson
4:00 Site Visit to Sheldon Slate, John Tatko presentation
5:30 Dinner
6:30 Evening Program /// Discussion with three panelists: Matt Hutton, Rosanne Somerson & John Tatko Moderated by Sadie Bliss, Executive Director, Maine Crafts Association (@ Tenney House)

Saturday June 11th
7:00 Morning Walk (meet @ Tenney House)
8:00 Breakfast
9:00 Studio time with Rosanne Somerson
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Studio time with Rosanne Somerson
5:30 Dinner
6:30 Evening Program /// Moderated Discussion with Chantal Harris, Monson Arts Director (meet @ Tenney House)

Sunday June 12th
8:00 Breakfast
9:00 Studio, finish-up, clean-up
11:00 Lunch with last words
12:00 Depart

Furniture Maker Retreat @ Monson Arts: Program Details

Monson Arts’ mission is to provide time and space for creative work. Monson itself was once the home of Moosehead Manufacturing, a nationally known maker of high quality furniture that closed in 2007, resulting in the loss of 250 jobs. Monson Arts wants to foster the spirit of ingenuity that went into Moosehead’s handmade furniture by working with Maine Crafts Association to bring experienced and emerging designers/makers of furniture to Monson, both to provide an opportunity for these makers to experiment and work together and also to talk with the staff at Monson Arts about ways that we can help support studio furniture in the region and the state. Craftspeople focused on their livelihood don’t always have the time to develop new ideas and reflect on their work or to work in a community of like-minded makers.

The retreat will provide a setting where studio furniture makers can have uninterrupted time to develop new ideas for their work and also provide an opportunity for emerging and experienced craftspeople to work side by side.

Maine Furniture Makers Retreat @ Monson Arts: Goals
  • To provide a retreat where makers can develop new ideas.
  • To foster cooperation and communication between generations of makers.
  • To help Monson Arts in developing initiatives that promote studio-based craft work in the region.

Twelve emerging and experienced furniture makers will be selected by the Maine Crafts Association to come for an intensive four-day retreat session at Monson Arts. Housing, meals, and studio space will be provided for free. Specific activities will include:

  • Public presentations by all of the makers.
  • Uninterrupted studio time and access to woodworking equipment.
  • Guided discussions with Maine Crafts Association and Monson Arts staff to talk about challenges and opportunities in the field.
  • Presentations by other furniture experts, makers and historians

We want to engage established and emerging studio furniture makers/designers in activities that will promote creative growth. This will be done through uninterrupted time to use Monson Arts facilities to develop ideas for new work. We want to connect Monson Arts with furniture makers and with the Maine Crafts Association to both promote the region and to help our organization understand the needs of furniture makers in Maine.

Maine Furniture Maker Retreat Participants: Invitational Process

The Maine Crafts Association implemented a process to identify and invite Maine-based furniture makers through nominations and self-nominations. The final group of furniture makers represents various career points, gender, sexual orientation, race, age, type of work, and other identifiers.

The makers will participate in presentations and dedicated studio time and are provided with room & board as well as a $200 stipend thanks to the partnership with Monson Arts and funding from The Belvedere Fund for Handcrafts.

If you or someone you know is interested in attending please fill out the form below.

About Monson Arts

Monson Arts began in 2017 with the support of the Libra Foundation. The mission is two-fold: to spur economic development in the region through the arts and to provide time and space for creative work for both professionals and amateurs. Monson Arts offers month-long and two-week long residencies for artists and writers, holds intensive summer workshops, and educational programs for schools in the region. Participants in the artists’ residencies and workshops come from throughout the US (25 states and 8 countries). Participants in the school workshops are elementary and secondary students from communities within a 60 mile radius of Monson.