Stephen Grzesik

The pieces I create are typically one-off items, though I will sometimes explore a theme on a shape multiple times utilizing different sizes, materials (typically wood species) and finishes. They are usually furniture-centric in concept, though frequently not in the practical sense. While somewhat functional, they are meant as variations of sculptural forms masquerading in the guise of furniture, sometimes known as “Art as Furniture as Art”. To me they are the next level expressions or statements of what William Morris referred to as “State Furniture”, and are in the vein of what the artist Wharton Esherick is credited with creating: Studio Woodworking.

I’m not apt to only stick with conventional methods and materials in the creation and finishing of my pieces. The use of urban sourced wood from damaged or dying trees, rejected musical instrument woods, nuts, etc., is common in my work. While is do utilize power tools, there is a relatively high use of hand tools as much is shaped on the fly. I’m also prone to use non-traditional ways of coloring wood using chemical patinations, both of the wood itself and recently of (non-noble metal) foil gilding, and am currently experimenting with natural pigments as my next pieces are likely to be highly polychromed.

About myself, I was born and raised in southern Los Angeles county and have spent all but 1-1/2 years of my adulthood as a resident of Long Beach. I started my formal arts education in the fields of painting and drawing, though ended up with a B.F.A. from CSULB in Graphic Design, a much easier path to make a living from. I spent my career as a graphic/industrial designer, art director and in related positions. My father and many generations on both sides of my family were pattern makers, model makers, cabinet (furniture) makers and generally highly skilled woodworkers. I picked up these skills over the years from my father’s side, then honed them through a formal education via a Furniture Making Certification from Cerritos College. I currently combine these skills with my original love and infatuation with the fine arts in the relatively new field of Studio Woodworking.



Contact Information

Stephen Grzesik
(562) 618-9313

Artist Links


Artist Work

"And Now, This Week's Episode of Samurai Woodworker" (2023)
This is a whimsical interpretation on what John Belushi's SNL Samurai character might have created, had such an episode existed. It is a variation on a Japanese Tansu chest, frozen in time as it's being cut in half by a Samurai sword. It uses period and modern hardware.

Reliquary of the Seven Challenges (2022)
This is a Cabinet on Stand in which I challenged myself to create a piece with seven skills I'd either never used before or only in a seminar or short course. The doors are carved wood (ginko leaves), gilded and patinated. There are seven ladybugs created from red coral beads.

Katana Table II (2019)
This is a curved-top hall or sofa back table. The wood for the top is local urban-sourced California Sycamore.

Patinated Reliquary (2015)
This reliquary, a container for sacred or precious objects, is created and sculpted from patinated curly maple and has a California buckeye burl lid with ebony inserts.