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Tony May at his San Jose Studio

Our first Online Studio Visit brings us to San Jose, California where Tony May shows us how to REALLY work from home.

In his backyard, the latest project is a structure he's building to permanently house the T-Treehouse, an installation originally built in 1999 in collaboration with Lonny Tomono. Like many of May’s sculptural objects, the T-Treehouse was designed to be portable; utilizing traditional Japanese joinery, it breaks down into its component parts. It has been installed at the East Hawaii Cultural Center in Hilo, Hawaii, as well as the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art for May’s career retrospective in 2010.
Since it was never meant to exist outdoors, Tony has been building a proper, protected home for it, complete with a foundation, glass windows and a sheet-metal roof. After nearly two years of construction, he's made significant progress!

 

“I like to think of this project,” May explains, “the T.Treehouse, as fitting somewhat into the tradition of Follies, which the dictionary defines as, “A whimsical or extravagant structure built to serve as a conversation piece, lend interest to a view, etc. found especially in England in the 18th century.” They often took on the appearance of ancient ruins. My project also aspires, in a low-keyed way, to be part of the tradition of eccentric back yard structures…”

 

Commenting on his practice as a whole, May says “As a retired Art Professor, I realize that I now build for the sake of building and have the luxury of time to be able to do so. I work slowly, focusing on small details and inventing ways of working with largely recycled materials.”

 

captions:

1. Current state of the T-Treehouse in May’s backyard, March 2020.


2. Maquette for T-Treehouse.


3. T-Treehouse broken down in May’s workshop.


4. Original installation at the East Hawaii Cultural Center, Hilo, HI, 1999.


5. First structural beams and foundation for foot-well, 2018.


6. Supports for walls and roof put in place.


7. Support beams for roof added.


8. T-Treehouse being fitted in place.


9. Windows in place to protect the shoji screens

Image

Current state of the T.Treehouse at May's San Jose home, March 2020.

In Tony May's backyard, the latest project is a structure he's building to permanently house the T.Treehouse, an installation originally built in 1999 in collaboration with Lonny Tomono. Like many of May’s sculptural objects, the T.Treehouse was designed to be portable; utilizing traditional Japanese joinery, it breaks down into its component parts. It has been installed at the East Hawaii Cultural Center in Hilo, Hawaii, as well as the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art for May’s career retrospective in 2010.

Since it was never meant to exist outdoors, Tony has been building a proper, protected home for it, complete with a foundation, glass windows and a sheet-metal roof. After nearly two years of construction, he's made significant progress!

“I like to think of this project,” May explains, “the T.Treehouse, as fitting somewhat into the tradition of Follies, which the dictionary defines as, “A whimsical or extravagant structure built to serve as a conversation piece, lend interest to a view, etc. found especially in England in the 18th century.” They often took on the appearance of ancient ruins. My project also aspires, in a low-keyed way, to be part of the tradition of eccentric back yard structures…”

Commenting on his practice as a whole, May says “As a retired Art Professor, I realize that I now build for the sake of building and have the luxury of time to be able to do so. I work slowly, focusing on small details and inventing ways of working with largely recycled materials.”

Text/Image Swiper

Original installation at the East Hawaii Cultural Center, Hilo, HI, 1999.

Original installation at the East Hawaii Cultural Center, Hilo, HI, 1999.

Maquette for the T-Treehouse.

Maquette for the T.Treehouse.

First structural beams and foundation for foot-well, 2018

First structural beams and foundation for foot-well, 2018.

Supports for walls and roof put in place.

Supports for walls and roof put in place.

Support beams for roof added.

Support beams for roof added.

T-Treehouse broken down in May’s workshop

The T.Treehouse broken down in May’s workshop.

T-Treehouse being fitted in place.

The T.Treehouse being fitted in place.

Windows in place to protect the shoji screens.

Windows in place to protect the shoji screens.