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first light © Robert Sommers 2019

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sam Maloof - rest in peace





I got an email from Mike Riordan this morning that my friend and mentor Sam Maloof had died thursday. I haven't seen him for several months but knew he hadn't been doing well. I had planned on going up to see him soon.

Sam was one of the sweetest human beings I have ever encountered. He also had an aesthetic eye that was unparalleled. He loved the influences of the southwest and clean modern lines. 

He knew what he liked and didn't like. Sometimes he would pick out a rug or something for his collection that I would think was discordant or not terribly attractive, yet I would discover that it all fit perfectly thanks to his advanced sense of style and color.  He could take a early 1960's pastel colored wide ruins or chinle navajo rug that has been scorned in the marketplace and give it the respect it deserved.  An eye that is still light years ahead of the pack.

I appreciate how Maloof pieces have organically morphed through time with a nip here and a tuck there. Sam and his crew have been in charge of an evolutionary dialogue in form. He was always open to new ways to perfect the shape.  

Sam had the most beautiful handwriting in the world. It was so interesting to me to hear him talk about his working with Millard Sheets in the thirties. He designed Millard's logo.  Modern artists like Sam and Millard made a conscious and courageous  aesthetic break with their more literal forebears that required conviction and determination.

He was his own man in terms of design and a hands on craftsman until the end of his days. A pioneer who singlehandedly carved out a new design aesthetic that will live forever. A titan. He loved the people in his world and was always happy to take a new friend to lunch.

I will miss Sam. I am sorry that he had been in pain lately. But you can't mourn overmuch for a person who lived into their nineties and was so loved by all. And who achieved so much in terms of both contribution and acclaim in his own lifetime.



I offer my condolences to Bev, Roz, Sammy and Larry, David and Mike. They all were very patient with Sam, listening to the same stories often over and over again in the spirit of love without cracking. He loved his wife, family, home, friends and the talented craftsmen who had been with him for so many years.

I am so privileged to know him and to count him as a friend. As are all of us in the Maloof community.

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"I want to be able to work a piece of wood into an object that contributes something beautiful and useful to everyday life. And I want to do this for an individual that I can come to know as a friend."

2 comments:

Sanoguy said...

Here is the link to the LA Times obit of Sam, 5-23-2009:

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-sam-maloof23-2009may23,0,3907018.story

Mike

Barbara said...

I remember meeting Sam in your gallery. Even in that one brief meeting I could tell what a warm person he was. I'm sorry to hear of his death.