Born in Alameda, CA, in 1934, Gary Knox Bennett is a very different kind of artist. He attended the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, which is where his heart is. Although he does jewelry and sculpture, his major ouevre has been in ... furniture. No kidding! And it's stunning stuff. Obvious influences include Japanese art and architecture, African and Native American tribal motifs, classical European furniture, and a sense of humor. Motto: No sissy art for me!

His recent show at the Oakland Museum of California includes desks, clocks, lamps, chairs, chests of drawers, and some jewelry. Some of it is whimsical, some striking--some you'd put in your three-year-old princess's bedroom, and some is too phallic for anything but a men's club. Some of my favorite pieces:

- a lavender desk with trademark brushed aluminum accents, a front that curves and ripples--and the handles curve and ripple too--and the "leg-space" is painted in back with a fire, and the whole thing has a false brick bottom. So it's a desk that looks like a fireplace. Hee.
- another lavender desk, extremely delicate with curved, spindly legs that make it look like it's about to dance away--right next to a desk carved out of huge pieces of black and brown wood and metal (called "Bull Desk")
- a grandfather clock built into a packing crate, lit from inside--the light flickers and dims when you tuch the copper nails in the side
- pink and blue cloud, star, and moon-shaped clocks
- a lamp inspired by a samurai helmet
- a very elegant-looking necklace formed by two abstract metal strips of bacon and an abstract fried egg, which has "Eat at Alice's" scribbled on it
- a clock with fiery golden wings and exquisitely detailed feathered bronze legs, and silver talons, that looked like something out of a grown-up Harry Potter

Bennett doesn't fit most people's idea of an 'artiste,' either. He's at least 6'3", with a large beard, a barrel chest, and wears cowboy boots. I'm usually not into art furniture at all, but this stuff is just...fun.

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