This unusual fireplace harkens back to the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park where the family has deep, multi-generational ties. Built to an epic, larger-than-life scale, the finished stone structure has a calming presence in the room it fully inhabits. In its quiet way, it beckons one to gather around it, start a fire and enjoy the richness of one of mankind’s oldest rituals; quieting the soul around a fire with family and friends.
The stone pattern was drawn on paper in what Rhodes describes as a “visual sonnet”. The section below the single stone mantel (weighing more than 1800 lbs.) is envisioned as the first quatrain and quite different from the “poetry” that follows above the mantle. Fireplaces, with their defined stops, starts and rigid dimensional requirements, can feel like rhymed verse. Those rigid limitations either curse you or set you free…
The irregular granite was collected from the Cascade Mountain range, each piece chosen for its color and texture. Wood templates from Rhodes’ original drawing defined the precise fit required to maintain the tight joints. The entire assemble was crafted in advance and then shipped to the site in a numbered system.
The stone firebox extends Rhodes twenty-five year exploration of the firebox as artwork, turning the “black hole” in the living room into fully realized sculpture. This work, carved in stone in bas relief, is titled, Forest Gathering. Largely hidden behind a bronze screen that retracts behind the upper stonework, the carving is first hidden from view. Once the fire is lit, the bronze screen becomes invisible, much the way a theatre scrim allows transparency once the set is lit from behind. At this moment, not only does the carving become visible, but the carved forest forms begin to animate in the flickering light of the fire. Thus, the viewers experience is transformed as the warmth of the fire changes and charges the light and energy of the lager room.