Over a three-decade-plus career, Vancouver designer Judson Beaumont made such famous pieces as a grandfather clock that bends over saucily and wears a wristwatch to a coffee table (see below) that lifts one leg to “pee” on the floor. His whimsical custom creations sell all around the world, and he’s crafted collections for Disney and children’s hospitals.
Now the local arts community is mourning the sudden loss on February 17 of the Saskatoon-born artist at 59; no cause of death has been released.
Beaumont was a mainstay at the Eastside Culture Crawl, as one of its original members.
"As the Eastside Culture Crawl moves into it’s 24th year we can’t imagine Judson Beaumont not being a part of it. His name and art is synonymous with the Culture Crawl," the Eastside Culture Crawl said today in a statement on social media. "We don’t think that anyone who has ever attended the festival has missed his studio and his art. We are devastated that one of the 19 original members of what became the Culture Crawl is gone. It is a huge loss to the Parker Street Studios and the Culture Crawl community whom he gave so much to."
Headquartered in the labyrinthine studios of 1000 Parker Street, Beaumont once told the Straight that he would often wake up at 5 a.m. to go there. He would sometimes sketch as soon as he arrived, or experiment on his machines.
“I always have 15 things on the go,” the father of two told the Straight. “And if I keep drawing the same thing over and over, that means I have to make it.
“I always say, ‘What if?’" he said. "What if a piece of furniture exploded or fractured or melted?’ ”
He attended the then–Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, and when he graduated in 1985, well, he didn’t want it to end. He spent about six months in the movie industry before realizing he had to try something else. He decided to open a studio to make furniture for a living and work on his sculpture in the off-hours.
In 2016, he released a children's book called Timbertown Tales: Chester Gets a Pet! (created with Joanna Karaplis) featuring one of his wonky chest of drawers as the title character, in a town full of anthropomorphized wooden furniture.
Beaumont gave back to his community, donating many pieces to charitable organizations including Arts Umbrella, the Vancouver Art Gallery, BC Guide Dog Services, AIDS Vancouver, and BC Children’s Hospital. he was also an active member of BC Wood, Woodlinks, and the Furniture Society.