_We fell in love with Matt Hanner the day his Four Ghosts took our breath. That was the first time we had seen Matt’s work. We wanted to give him a room to play with, but we have very few rooms in our place, and Matt’s work is quite commanding.
_We did have a hand-me-down chest that was not really interesting as furniture, so we wanted to commission Matt Hanner to make art of it. We sent him about a dozen of photos of this chest of drawers. Matt was was unsure, until this ringed stain caught his eye. It was this small marred circle that inspired Matt Hanner to accept the commission.
_So Matt drove to Chicago from his Indiana studio, strapped the old chest of drawers to his hand-truck, and they were both gone, artist and potential.
_That is when the torture began. Matt took his time. Weeks, months passed as he played with various ideas, and he played with the piece…before he dove into the mechanics of his work. We grew close to Matt Hanner during this time, as the three of us would take turns sharing photos via email. Matt would send us clues, such as this one, that were meant to keep us in the loop about his progress, while fulfilling our request to not see the piece until it was done.
_Some messages landed like a severed pinky in your postbox; a testament to the status of the kidnapped loved one. What had he done with our knobs, and why? Is that a switchblade? No. We surmised the knob marked 2L probably came from the 2nd drawer, left-hand side…but why were some knobs labeled in green, and others in standard masking tape? It seemed all the knobs marked L were labeled in green. Was our piece now two-toned, and would the handles serve a new purpose?
_We were finally told the piece was nearing completion. It was taking quite a while to dry. We were torn, thrilled we were going to see what Matt Hanner had made for us, but also in mourning for the upcoming loss of back and forth of passed messages to each other. He sent us this shot labeled “crate 1″. If you know Matt Hanner, you love this shot.
_We volleyed, sending him blurred details, stolen from his crate.
_It was at this time that we fell in love with Matt’s family. “Dad sit here” read the handwritten note that Matt Hanner found in his studio one day. He was a proud father. Soon it was time to pick up our art piece, and we traveled to Indiana to see it, not to pick it up, just to see it. Matt Hanner, all the Hanners, wanted to witness our surprise when we saw the piece transformed. So, we traveled to Indiana on a winter day when a odd frozen fog had painted every twig and every blade of grass. We knew exactly why Matt Hanner lived in Indiana with his girls.
_The day Matt died we thought about his girls, who loved him so. By girls we include his mom, his wife, his daughters, his sister. We thought about his brothers, and by that we mean artists, friends, and dear sibling who new him well. We thought about how we had been checking the weather each day by looking out of our highrise window to see how the sky looks at “Matt’s place”. What was gone from our lives? We thought about the exhibit that Matt had in Chicago where he hung a collage that he made of photographs of our completed piece.
_It hung right across from this wall upon which Matt drew.
_Similar with our piece, that wall was considered, studied and pondered before his hand made one mark. Now whenever our bus passes that building it is easy to think, Matt’s mark is in there somewhere, under a coat of paint, or just drifting.
_This is the photo that Matt Hanner took the day he followed us from his studio to our home, and set up “The Hanner” in our apartment.
_Matt showed us the particulars of each drawing, on every interior surface of the drawers and chest. He had left the exterior untouched, except to rub a finish into the surface and to tighten all of the hardware and joinery. Matt was not only an artist, but a craftsman.
_We decided on the spot, that we should buy a black light to see how this piece played at night, especially with the hidden glow-in-the-dark surface that Matt tucked away on the bottom of the piece.
_Matt then turned the piece around, and showed us that he where he filled and painted the tiny square hole that once made this piece cable ready. He had also painted an expansive crack that ran across the back panel and the original furniture maker’s label. We asked him to sign the piece and he wrote in colored pencil, “27 drawings for John and Francis Judd 2009-2010.”
_Now it was our turn to initiate photos. We bombarded Matt with daily shots of the part of our home we call “The Hanner”. Here is one we sent when a physics book was caught resting on its top.
_Matt would volley with shots that others had seen while he was working on our piece at his home/studio. Everyone was kind enough to keep these photos out of sight until Matt was ready to reveal it. Matt loved to add little memories of himself with his family at play, hidden in the corners of his photos. Here a set of unfinished drawers look out at a memory of Matt at play with loved ones.
_Here we showed Matt how we decided to move everything else away from “The Hanner” to give plenty of room for its daily configuration, our new erector set. Sometimes we pull out drawers, and turn them to get as much color bounce as possible.
_Matt liked this shot of his drawings sagging, in front of the painting of good friend Stephen Lapthisophon.
_…or stacked in a way that showcased the tiny circles on the cabinet maker’s metal strapping used to hold these drawers together for so many years. Matt loved those little circles.
_We loved dealing out photos to Matt.
_It never looks the same way twice. Here piece reflects squares window panes of morning sunlight light. That’s where we look out each day and check the weather at the Hanner’s place in Indiana.
_In the late afternoon, when a drawer is tilted just right, you can catch the sinking sun and window working to give a hard edged frame to one or more of the 27 drawings that Matt made for us. We sent him this shot that almost captures its beauty.
_Matt vollied with this old studio shot that he snapped as the last drawing of our piece was complete…still puddled in paint, yet to dry.