ve•neer (və-nîr') n. 1. A thin finishing or surface layer of fine wood, laminated plastic, formica, or the like, bonded to an inferior substratum such as an inexpensive wood. 2. Any of the thin layers glued together in making plywood. 3. Any outward show that enhances but misrepresents what lies beneath: "The erotic... demanded for him a veneer of the poetic" (Leslie Fiedler). —tr.v. veneered, -neering, -neers
Ten years ago I picked up a vintage set of 50 veneer samples for 15 bucks. ‘These babies are going to come in handy,’ I thought, and waited for the divine hand of brilliance to strike. Not so much.
Fast forward to the morning DJ on WHEB calling some poor sod a ‘CRUMBUM’. Christ, I haven’t heard that word in a while. Suddenly I miss my father and his weird Medford Sinatra-speak that fell halfway between immigrant slang and Army Yiddish.
Now I’m in the studio, making a mental map of our old house and the furniture Dad made and what materials he used, and wondering when he found the time in-between all that working, gambling, and floating around the pool. I’m thinking that ugly ass coffee table that was in the den had better match one of my vintage veneer samples or I’m going to be plenty pissed.
I begin to reconstruct a family story filled with marriages, careers, houses and empty rooms waiting to be filled.
‘O.K., I recognize this road, time to go in and mine the family ore, God knows I can do that.’
Is this nostalgia? Scab-picking? An allegory on those fragments we have all ‘shored against our ruins’? Or am I merely showcasing lumber?
The surface of VENEER appears simple and sculptural, reflecting that ‘outward show that enhances but misrepresents what lies beneath’, barely leaving a trail of bread crumbs to all the storytelling hidden behind the veneer panels.
*The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1969