Art Trek joins artists and businesses to break records

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, July 6, 2014



The grins were infectious in the Upstairs Artspace this past Tuesday as the 24 participating open studio tours artists returned with their Art Trek signs and tales of crowds, record sales and new friends.
“It was a record-breaker,” said Upstairs director, Tom Madison.  “One artist told me that the last folks came in at 4:55 p.m. on Sunday and didn’t leave until almost 8:00.  It was a lot of fun.”
This was the first year the community gallery asked local businesses to join in the fun and it made for a perfect balance of art, good food and boutique shopping for visitors to the town.
J.P. Lebouef, chef-owner of Lavender Bistro was fully booked for his special Art Trek Prix Fixe dinner Saturday night and brunch on Sunday.  “It is something I would like to do more of,” he told Madison, and is already thinking of an art-themed chef challenge for next year.
Madison, who along with graphic artist Sofia Dow organized and managed the event this year, says he was thrilled with the weekend that started off with the sale of five pieces at the preview event.  “I don’t think we’ve ever sold five pieces on the first night of a show before,” he said.
The bidding on 20 silent auction pieces in the small works gallery is ongoing all month and is heating up with the bidders split between those who jump-in right away and those who are waiting for the last week to bid.  The current hot item is a quirky four-foot carved and painted American eagle with attitude by woodcarver B.J. Precourt, whose studio was a beehive of activity over the weekend.  “I will have to get more chairs to set out under the trees next year,” Precourt’s wife told Upstairs board member Jean Pettigrew.
If you missed the open studio weekend, there is still the opportunity to view the works of 24 of the Tryon area’s talented artists, and to bid on some beautiful pieces in the silent auction.  The Art Trek 2014 show will run until July 25.  That evening, there will be a closing reception from 5:00 – 7:30 p.m. where the silent auction winners will be photo-(10)announced.  The gallery at 49 S. Trade St., Tryon is open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
The Upstairs Artspace is a non-profit art gallery whose mission is to develop an understanding and appreciation of contemporary art and craft forms through exhibits, programs and educational activities that enrich the cultural life of the region. Its free programs are made possible through the support of the Polk County Community Foundation, the North Carolina Council of the Arts and the generous support of its members.

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by Clare O’Sheel