Brooklyn-based artist Ariele Alasko embodies two of my favorite qualities in a person: 1) resourcefulness: she’s a dumpster diver 2) wonderment: she lets each day unfold with an element of surprise, remaining open to its messages. This is exactly how wood found it’s way into her life!
Ariele Alasko attended New York’s Pratt Institute to study sculpture, and wood became her medium. She now runs her own one-woman woodworking business, one piece at a time, built-by-hand… but to only call her a woodworker would short change her multifaceted design abilities. She is a playful photographer and posts daily on Instagram. She hand-letters and stamps her own packaging and marketing materials. She is a self-proclaimed builder and fixer, and lover of big tools and old wood. Her first 6 months as an official furniture builder were spent in a 100 square foot space between the living room and the kitchen of her small Bedstuy apartment she shares with her boyfriend. Here’s where her story really got me — upon graduating from school, she came home to Monterey for 7 months to design and build her family restaurant, Il Vecchio. She spent 7 days a week working with the materials she salvaged on her drive home from Brooklyn to West. Il Vecchio is located close to me in the small coastal town of Pacific Grove. It’s my favorite place for the best homemade pasta, red wine and intimate unfussy service, all presented in an easy-going relaxed setting. Dining at Il Vecchio for New Year’s, we met Ariele’s father, the proprietor, dressed for the occasion in black tie while warmly orchestrating two fully reserved, pre-fixed dinner seatings for the night. A class act, just like his daughter! Ariele’s motto: If it’s broken, fix it. If you need it, build it.
Alasko salvages found lath from Brooklyn dumpsters and demolition sites (she jumps right in and forages for her materials.) These thin, narrow strips of hardwood lath were the basic material used in a technique known as lath and plaster to construct interior walls until the late 1950s. Imagine the untold stories imbedded in this Brooklyn lath, wood, many from immigrant families living in this area at the turn of the century. Now I own my own piece of history and art, from Ariele Alasko.