Pete Hajdu Custom Fine Furniture

This month Valley Fine Art is featuring Pete Hadju. Pete is a local artist who lives in Aspen and works at his studio in Carbondale, for all of you who don’t live here in Aspen, that’s down valley.

Down valley, up valley, I actually think art happens all over the valley… like all the popular axiom about politics, art happens on a local level; and especially here in Aspen where we have brilliant artist in brilliant minds, doing brilliant work.

The way Pete Hajdu’s likes to create when he is talking about a designed piece either with a Designer or client is, “Draw it on a napkin, tell me what you want, the dimensions, and I will go into the shop and design it”

And design he does.

I have to admit I was not familiar with Pete’s work so when Mia mentioned we were going to be featuring him on our website. I thought, interesting… But truth be told, I am a little bit of a furniture snob. Sad but true. I have been a designer for 20 years and blind folded I can pick out the most expensive, well made piece in the place. So the morning I came into the gallery and looked to my right and saw this amazing piece of artistry- My jaw unhinged, papers fell to the floor, purse dropped and lipstick rolled quietly across the floor… Or like the French say- “anges chantant” (insert angels singing)

No kidding.

To call his art- wood working, furniture making, a craft, it’s like calling a tornado a rain storm. The theory is, it is very difficult to transition from a craftsmen’s to an artist, but this is what has happened with Pete, his work is being shown in two galleries in town. Quite a feat when he kind of got his start working with his Father.

Pete’s Father was from Europe and grew up in a Hungarian Village. He then moved to The United States in 1957. His Father spoke 6 languages and started working for United Aircraft Research Lab with a high security clearance. After years in the business he wanted less stress and moved to his own business which was designing mechanical square modules for corporations such as Madison Square Garden’s and Nasa. Pete worked alongside his Father helping him out while he was in high school and college. While the family lived in Connecticut his Father discovered a tool called a ‘buck scrapper,’ which is a tool that ship makers used in old New England for the beams on a ship. It was there that his Father moved from modular making to the craft of wood working, with Pete following right behind him.

Pete then graduated from Alliance College with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and with a combination of his Father’s creative gene and working side-by-side with him, and a degree in Engineering, the stars aligned, magic fairy dust happened and the work that comes out of that shop in Carbondale, for lack of a better word-magical.

Or to put it like a collector put it …“His work is off the charts! OFF THE…CHARTS!”

I have to agree, furniture snob that I am. Literally takes your breath away- beautiful. When no one is looking I am flat on my stomach in the gallery staring into every square inch looking for a flaw, sad to say, there is none.

So I called him-

Valley Fine Art: “Hey”
Pete: “Hey”
Valley Fine Art: “How do you do it?”
Pete: “I let the wood talk to me.”
VFA: “And what does the wood say?”
Pete: “I need to know what the wood wants to be. It’s a romance with it. I may think it’s going to be a table and because of the lines and the natural beauty of it, it ends up being a bench!”
“When I order the wood and the woods shows up, all I do is bring the beauty of that wood out. I never fight against what the wood wants to be naturally. It’s a respect for that material whatever that particular wood is. I never want to rob it of its dignity.”
VFA: “Who influenced you?”
Pete: George Nakashima
VFA:  How do you keep motivated to move on to the next piece?
Pete: “It’s where we live, the mountains, biking, skiing. The connection to it spiritually, it keeps you in check.”

Keeps you in check…Aspen, and people want to know why we live here?!

As I wrap up another blog, papers skewed all over my desk. My coffee cup drained for the ninth time… I sit back and think…of artist, the mountains, skiing, spirituality and Aspen…everything wrapped up into one.

Kind of the perfect place for the rebels of the earth. Or just artist…

Jordan Thompson
Valley Fine Art