“Jurors' Best in Show Award” - February 2024 Tubed Maine Wood Show

“Jurors’ Best in Show Award” – February 2024

Last weekend our family piled into the car to make our way up to the Messler Gallery in Rockport; 2 boys, a mama, a papa, a Ruby dog, bags of snacks for humans and pups, swimsuits, layers, an excessive amount of shoes, and other random accessories like iphones, chargers, football, soccer ball, stacks of books… you never know what adventure might be calling.  

The doors opened at 5:30pm for the 9th biennial Maine Wood Exhibition.  Hosted at The Center for Maine Craftsmanship, they describe the show as, …a juried, biennial exhibition designed to showcase the breadth, creativity, and excellence of Maine’s woodworking community.” 

Artists submit pictures of their unique pieces to be considered as part of the Exhibition.  This year the Center received 63 submissions from 43 Maine artists and artisans.  Of the many submissions, only a handful are selected to be showcased in the quaint gallery in Downeast Rockport Maine; only 8 of those showcased receive awards for design, craftsmanship, and form.  

Saer entered a picture for submission last Fall that wove together his passion for surfing and refined wood design, called “Tubed”.  He describes his design inspiration coming from rhythmic corduroys of swell lines on the horizon.  These lines are visible in the unique curvature of the wood on the whole of the bench.  Resting on top of the bench is a series of long upholstered tubes.  Saer shares, with a bit of a smirk, that this idea came from, “…growing up in a drafty house.  I remember the soft tubes in every door jam”.  His design incorporates a more modern and refined winter warm up tube resting on the bench top to provide cushion and comfort.     

(“Tubed” Bench near the end of production taken at Huston & Company right before delivery.)
Photo by Saer Huston 

His submitted artist statement to the Maine Wood Exhibition included: 

“Tubed” is a bench made from solid Ash with individual woven wool felt tube cushions.  The Ash has a bleached wash coat with a Sirca spray finish.  While the bench has repeating straight lines with sharp corners and edges that were intentionally left crisp, the deeply carved grooves create soothing curves and circular patterns,  and the individual felted wool cushions provide an organic feel and comfortable seat.  My intent was to create a bench that is visually like no other, while also making it comfortable and functional; simple and complex all at the same time.

(A crowd gathers around “Tubed” at the Maine Wood Show.)
Photo by Genell Huston


(Saer gets his photo taken from the Maine Wood Show’s photographer after winning his award.)
Photo by Genell Huston


(Saer with his aunt, Bill Huston’s sister, Jill Bock, leaning in to congratulate at the Maine Wood Exhibition. Jill was instrumental in supporting Huston & Company with their marketing design, logos and printed materials.) 
Photo by Genell Huston


The drive up was smooth and easy.  We made a quick pit stop at The Samoset, “A Beloved & Luxurious Resort on the Coast of Maine” to drop off Ruby dog in our room while we attended the show.  By the time we pulled into the Messler gallery cars lined both sides of the dirt drive.  The windows were aglow with warm light and many bodies mingling about the space.  The four of us threaded through the crowd to the snack table, stealing glances at the other pieces of artwork along the way.  A clink of the glass and a short speech from someone from The Center for Maine Craftsmanship named “it was time to vote.”  Bits of paper and pens floated about as everyone scratched down their favorite piece to be entered for selection of “the People’s Choice” award.  Our crew scribbled down, “Tubed” by Saer Huston, folded the paper, and dropped it into the bucket.  

More mingling, viewing, and then another clink of the glass to corral all the artists up front as a way to honor and showcase.  One by one the 8 Awards were announced and recognized.  In our eyes, Saer Huston is always a winner, even so, our fingers were crossed and hopeful that his name would be called out.  Sure enough, “The Jurors’ Best in Show” Award announced a tie, and one of those named was “Tubed” by Saer Huston.  With great applause and ear to ear smile, Saer walked up to receive the well deserved award and recognition.    

(Saer stands with a handful of other Maine artists during the Maine Wood Exhibition Awards Ceremony.)
Photo by Genell Huston


(Saer and his oldest son, Keller, sitting on “Tubed” and wearing big pride for winning the Award.) 
Photo by Genell Huston

Huston & Company first submitted pieces to be showcased in the Maine Wood show in 2018. Saer submitted the Balance Dining Table.  The Huston & Company Balance Collection employs steam-bent curves to create free-flowing forms inspired by the ocean.  They took home the “Best in Original Design” for the piece that year.   

In 2020, Huston & Company submitted the Huston Coat Tree 2.0.  Considered by many to be their signature design, the Huston Coat Tree has been a staple in the catalog since 1989.

The piece has an elegant, sophisticated design coupled with a heavy cast iron base which makes it a beautiful and practical accessory for any home, office, or entrance.  The 2.0 version was Saer’s artist twist of creating a modern vibrant pop to a traditional piece.  He painted the iron bases in colors that caught your eye for a stand out piece.    

In 2022, Saer submitted the North Fork Coffee Table and won the “Jurors’ Best in Show” award. The design inspiration for the table came from pairing an essence of North Fork Design Co’s overall designing aesthetics, their nautical logo, and the raw beauty in nature.  The elements of coastline, light, contours, and texture to create the North Fork Dining Table. Each table features through-tenons with inlaid brass wedges and a fluid leg structure and base, inspired by the North Fork Design Co. logo and brought to life in form. 

Our crew made it back to the hotel for a restful night of sleep.  We woke to the sun rising, the room with a view right over the lighthouse pier and islands in the distance glowing with the morning beams.  We spent our morning combing the gorgeous coastline, splashing in the pool, and enjoying a delicious breakfast of pancakes, eggs, sausage, and toast.  Once again our crew piled back into the car and made it home safe and sound, filled to the brim from a rich weekend together in presence.  

(Saer and his dog, Ruby, under the winter sun outside of the Samoset the next morning.) 
Photo by Genell Huston