Woodworker, furniture designer and MacArthur genius award winner Sam Maloof passed away late last week. Described by the Smithsonian as "America's most renowned contemporary furniture craftsman," he was 93 and until just a few weeks ago was still making furniture.
Steven and I met him years ago when we were both working at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado. He was probably the kindest, most generous man I have ever met. Sam didn't believe in trade secrets and relished teaching other woodworkers his techniques. He was tireless and could not have been more supportive of young, and not so young, artists and craftspeople. He provided numerous scholarships for students and taught many classes and workshops.
In the LA Times obituary they mention how when people would visit his home (which is open to the public and on the National Registry of Historic Places) he would, "interrupt progress on orders that were backlogged for years and take them on an energetic our of his six acre property." And that's exactly what happened to us when we visited a couple years ago during a trip to LA. I am sure that Sam didn't remember us from The Ranch, but that didn't stop him from dropping what he was doing, showing us how to rough cut a chair arm on a band saw without losing a finger, and taking us on an hour long tour of his barns, workshops and home.