Have a Seat: Eight designers of contemporary chairs opens at the Upstairs

Published 12:02 pm Thursday, March 10, 2016

Lily Chair

Lily Chair

Journalist and author Fran Liebowitz, noted for her sardonic social commentary, elevated the act of sitting when she wrote there was no more underrated form of exercise than “a good sit.”


Eight area artists take seating from the sardonic to the sublime, from the functional to the imaginative with the March 12 Upstairs Artspace opening of Have a Seat: Eight Designers of Contemporary Chairs celebrating unexpected innovation, elegance and whimsy in the not-so-everyday chair.

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“The chair is the perfect marker for the ever-changing history of design,” says exhibit curator Sherry Masters. “If you look at the chair throughout history, you see how it, along with architecture and art, reflect the life and times of designers as well as those who required the seat. Think of Egyptian thrones, common stools in medieval times, Baroque, Neoclassical, and Eames chairs. The style and form of chairs, materials, production, all evolved over the centuries. This exhibit gives wonderful examples of what today’s chair makers are using for materials as well as a glimpse into their creative spirits. ”

Masters has assembled 19 pieces that demonstrate that even with objects as ordinary as chairs there is room for the unexpected. The eight artists exhibiting in “Have a Seat” showcase the finest in imaginative, fun, and ergonomically correct 21st century chair design.


From Fatie Atkinson’s One Legged Stool (“great for anyone on the move”) and his Tuxedo Chair (“elegance infused with comfort”), to award-winning international chair maker Brian Boggs’ Sonus Guitar Chair (“beautifully articulated expression of comfort expressly designed for the physical health of musicians”) and the whimsical and ultra-contemporary aluminum The Scotty by furniture innovator Annie Evelyn, we find we can still be surprised and find whimsy in a chair, and yet still be comfortable.

“Joy, laughter and the unexpected have always been at the heart of my work,” says Evelyn. To wit: her delightful Squishy Sticks chair that grew out of her work upholstering with cement.

Other artists participating in the exhibit are: Brian Fireman, Robb Helmkamp, Derek Hennigar, David Scott, and Brandon Skupski. The studios of Fireman, Hennigar, Skupski and Brian Boggs will be included in an April 7 studio tour led by Masters where visitors will be able to hear from the artists regarding their processes and inspiration, as well as ask questions and learn how these artists have developed their careers.


The cost for the tour, which is limited to 12 people, includes lunch and transportation. Call the Upstairs Artspace at 828-859-2828 for price information and to make reservations.

Have A Seat: Eight Designers of Contemporary Chairs opens with a free public reception from 6 – 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 12. The gallery is located at 49 South Trade Street, Tryon.


For additional information call 828-859-2828 or visit upstairsartspace.org.


Submitted by Tom Madison