Archived Story

PCCF grant assists Upstairs Artspace with operating expenses

Published 6:30pm Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Upstairs Artspace has received a $17,000 grant from the Polk County Community Foundation to pay a portion of the gallery’s operating expenses in 2013.

Visitors enjoy the opening reception of “Older than Dirt,” one of the Upstairs’ current exhibits. (photo by Mark Schmerling)
Visitors enjoy the opening reception of “Older than Dirt,” one of the Upstairs’ current exhibits. (photo by Mark Schmerling)

The Upstairs has been bringing innovative contemporary art to Tryon and the Foothills for 35 years, and presents a dozen or more exhibits annually. It also hosts a variety of programs such as guided “walk and talk” tours of new exhibits, as well as films, workshops and the annual Art Trek Tryon open-studio tour, which will be held on April 27 and 28, with a preview reception on April 26.

“This grant will be a tremendous help to the Upstairs,” says Harold Maass, president of the nonprofit art gallery’s board of directors. “Ultimately, the whole community will benefit, because the foundation’s support will be felt all year, in everything the Upstairs does.”

The Polk County Community Foundation supports a variety of charitable activities to improve the quality of life in Polk County and the surrounding area.

Last year, the foundation provided funding for one of the most popular exhibits the Upstairs has held in recent years, Heated Exchange: Contemporary Encaustic. That show, the first of its kind in the south, was entirely devoted to encaustic art, an ancient technique using colorful wax.

The foundation has provided support to a long list of nonprofit organizations, from the Tryon Little Theater to FENCE to the Upstairs Artspace, as well as popular events, including Super Saturday, the Saluda Arts Festival, Tryon gallery trots, and many more.

“So many people come to this area and are bowled over that a small community like ours can sustain such a rich cultural life,” said Maass. “The Polk County Community Foundation is one of the reasons so many wonderful local organizations are able to thrive here.”

The foundation is located at 255 S. Trade St. in Tryon. For more information, visit its website (, call 828-859-5314, or email to

The Upstairs currently has three exhibits on display: “Here, After,” featuring the work of three Asheville painters exploring art’s role in the wake of tragedy; “Southern Comfort,” in which photographer Ben Nixon documents the Southern landscape; and “Older than Dirt,” in which six local potters update an old medium.

For more information on the Upstairs, visit the gallery at 49 S. Trade St., Tryon, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, or call 828-859-2828. The gallery’s website,, also has details about the current and past shows, as well as images of some of the art on display.

– article submitted by Harold Maass

  • fallingman

    Jeez, I remember when I was on the board in the early days, we managed to scrounge together a couple hundred bucks to buy some carpet remnant I found in Greenville that had come out of a jewelry store after a fire had damaged the place. The carpet was the highest grade I’d ever seen and was undamaged. Looked like new. Went for something like $45 a sq yard commercially. It was beautiful. Gray…very elegant.

    We got it for something crazy like $2 a square yard and Bigelow was kind enough to finish the edges for free on their big machine as a contribution.

    An architect told us it’d cost us $15,000 to fix up the space above Tryon Federal…the artspace’s third home. Cost us something like $1,200. because we were smart about it and people donated their time. We didn’t have $15,000. We didn’t have $1,500.

    Craig got some grant money back then, but dribbles. Nothing like this, and certainly nothing for operating expenses. Those were the days. We had fun.

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