Upstairs Artspace names Madison Gallery Director

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, May 8, 2014


Upstairs Artspace gallery manager Tom Madison has been promoted to the new position of Gallery Director by the organization’s Executive Committee. Creation of the position is in line with the growth and direction of the 35-year-old organization, according to Harold Maass, chairman of the board.
“This is something we have planned to do for a while,” said Maass. “To be an agile organization we need a gallery director who is free to make program and exhibit decisions without going through the executive committee or the full board. Tom’s background makes him uniquely qualified in this regard. Since his arrival in September, he has spearheaded and overseen the refurbishment of the physical space, reorganized the administrative function, brought forward a number of innovative exhibit design ideas and has lately taken on responsibility, along with artist Sophia Karen Dow, for managing this year’s Art Trek.”
Madison has been the Upstairs manager since September 2013. He has 22 years of gallery management and design experience and a certificate in museum and gallery lighting from the Smithsonian Institution. He studied painting and printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he served on the faculty as administrative manager of the university’s gallery. He continues to take classes in sculpture and art history.
While Madison shies away from using the term “education,” he professes a commitment to engaging the community in conversation about art that will further the gallery’s role in the cultural life of the town. “My focus is on outreach to the community, to establish ongoing programs to familiarize the public with issues surrounding the understanding and appreciation of contemporary art and to encourage conversation about those issues,” he says. He points to the increasingly popular Philosophy of Art class as one such example, as well as an upcoming film series on contemporary art and artists. Madison says the gallery will also expand its “Walk and Talk series of visiting artist lectures and will implement a guided gallery tour by Dr. Deborah Fitzgerald of selected exhibits.
“I’d like to think of our motto as ‘Moving Forward’,” he says. “The gallery recently celebrated its 35th year and we’re looking ahead to continually building on that strong foundation for the next 35 and beyond.”
Madison relocated to Tryon from Asheville in 2013. “The Upstairs Artspace was one of the main reasons I relocated to Tryon,” he says. “I thought that a town that supported a gallery like this as well as other great organizations like the Tryon Fine Arts Center and the Lanier Library was a town in which I would be proud to live. In my role with the Upstairs I will do my best to honor and contribute to the growth of the community’s strong cultural history.”
The Upstairs Artspace has a 36-year history of showing art that is experimental, challenging and always of the highest caliber. The gallery offers programs as stimulating and diverse as the art it exhibits, including the upcoming “Philosophy of Art” course taught by Dr. Fitzgerald, and the annual “Art Trek” that combines studio tours of local artists with gallery activities. Weeklong Art Trek activities will begin the weekend of June 27. For information about the events go to The gallery, at 49 South Trade Street, is open Tuesday – Saturday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

– article submitted
by Clare O’Sheel

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