Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Sanctuary For the Human Spirit - Wharton Esherick Museum

Tucked away in the hillside around Paoli, Pa., The Wharton Esherick Museum is a treasure chest of  inspiring artistic masterpieces.  Wharton Esherick began his career as a artist and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. In was customary for artists to carve the frames for their oils so Esherick acquired a carving set and soon found himself fascinated with working with wood.  As Esherick became known for his carvings, sculptures and furniture, he became less involved with his painting career. This evolutionary process creates  a very inspirational journey when you tour this prolific artist's studio/residence that is now a museum.

The Studio began as the stone portion in 1926, the same year his last child, Peter, was born. In 1940 he constructed a two-story frame addition that included a dining room and a bedroom for Peter.  The spiral staircase pictured on the left was created to go from the dining room into the bedroom above.

Around 1965, he added the curved tower which he called the silo. Withn the silo he added a kitchen with a curved cherry countertop and a undermount copper sink with an indent for a cutting board. I found the whimsical nature of the hand carved utensils and a carved face as a pan handles an absolute delight.

As a kitchen designer there are two elements in the kitchen that really stood out.   In 2014 when I attended the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Vegas. Mick deGiuilio was there introducing his fabulous multi-tiered undermount stainless steel sink with grooves that allow for a cutting board or a utensil tray. Designers loved it for its versatility and its functionality. And they knew it would allow working in the kitchen to be less time consuming for their clients.  I had absolutely no idea that in 1965, Wharton Esherick had designed what I would consider the prototype to that sink. I looked at that copper sink with its insert and thought 'WOW".

The second eye-catcher was the base cabinet with a light in it.
Now, the light isn't up to our standards today for cabinet lighting, but in 1965 this was not something that was being done.  One of the most pronounced design features when  I was at the EuroCucina Design Show in Milan, a few years ago, was lighting in all drawers and base cabinets in the kitchen.  So again, Wharton was ahead of his time.

There is so much more I can say about this prolific artist. The museum is filled with beauty in sculpted forms - such as the Oblivian,  unique furniture, oil paintings, and hand relief carvings.  If you would like to book a tour please contact them via their website:

If you go, enjoy the journey.

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