The Rockin' Auction: Area artists transform chairs into art to help Adult Ed

“Mardi Gras,” by Libby Deasnett, is on display at Fine Arts Blount ArtSpace Gallery.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

“Mardi Gras,” by Libby Deasnett, is on display at Fine Arts Blount ArtSpace Gallery.

A chair for reading. Some of the best memories of childhood may well be traced to curling up in a favorite chair with a good book.

Thanks to area artists and Fine Arts Blount, community folks can own a piece of original artwork that evokes that memory and help adults in our community who need a boost in their education.

The Rockin’ Auction is a partnership between Fine Arts Blount and the Adult Education Foundation. Area artists have transformed 18 chairs into works of art that are on display around Maryville until Monday, June 21. Then, on Friday, June 25, the chairs will be on display at Fine Arts Blount ArtSpace Gallery during Last Friday Art Walk from 5 to 8 p.m.

Outgoing president of the Adult Education Foundation Bob Lash said each piece has little posters attached to them explaining what “The Rockin’ Auction” is and gives the name of the artist and the name the artist gave to his or her chair.

“On the 25th for the Art Walk, all these chairs will be on display back together at the FAB gallery on Broadway in downtown from 5 to a little before 8 p.m. People will be able to come by and see them together and put in a silent auction bid,” said Lash. “Then at 8, we are going to start the live auction for each chair. The bidding starts with the highest offer in the silent auction.”

Lash said that if no one makes a higher bid in the live auction than the highest bid in the silent auction, then that silent auction bidder wins the piece.

Awards will be given out to the participating artists. Lash is hoping for a Mayor’s Choice Award, with input from the county and two city mayors. Area merchants will be asked to choose a Merchant’s Choice Award, and there will be a People’s Choice Award voted on by those who come see the chairs at Art Walk.

“Hopefully that will increase the value of the chairs at the auction,” said Lash. “You can take home a winner.”

Blount County Commission Chair Steve Samples will lead the live auction.

Lash said they hope the artists will be on hand to talk about their artwork, and the Adult Education Foundation members will give a short overview of the work the foundation does..

“This will also be about promoting those artists and the good work at the foundation,” Lash said.

Lash said the idea for the fundraiser came about when members of the foundation board were brainstorming ideas for a third major fundraiser to compliment their Adult Spelling Bee and their “Evening with Dr. Bass” event.

“One of our board members heard about another literacy organization in Tennessee that auctioned off painted chairs. Artists in the community painted them, and they had a big dinner and gala and auctioned the chairs off,” said Lash. “We thought that was a pretty cool idea, but we didn’t have the resources to put on a formal dinner.”

That’s when the board members remembered that FAB participates in the Last Friday Art Walk. “We approached them to see if this was something they would want to do in conjunction with us and split the proceeds, We’re promoting the arts and adult education,” he said. “They jumped all over it, and it just sort of snowballed from there.”

FAB exhibit chair Karen Brackett said she was pleased with the response when she emailed artists asking them to pick chairs to paint. “I got a response immediately,” she said. “I love recycled art anyway, and the Adult Education Foundation rounded up chairs from their people. Each of the artists chose which chairs they wanted to use. We actually had more chairs than we could get around to painting.”

Brackett said it was fun to see how different the artists transformed the chairs. “One artist who tends to paint real formal things came up with a bright, cheerfully colored chair. There were a lot of surprises,” she said. “We have two artists who are not members of FAB and one of them has their chair on display in FAB gallery window. She has it totally covered in Marti Gras beads. It is no long a chair, it is sculpture. That was an elaborate piece, and everyone was surprised and excited to see that.”

Brackett said she ended up doing three. Two were a pair of leather chairs she had seen in a store years ago and wanted to buy. “The only part that was paintable was the legs. I painted leopard spots on the legs,” she said.

There was a children’s rocker no one took so Brackett painted it using a country theme. “It had bandana print arms and a faux finish side and painted metal studs on it to make it look like a saddle would look,” she said. “It has been a lot of fun, and I’m anxious to see what the evening is going to be like.”

Lash said the fundraiser was a simple concept and that didn’t require a lot of outlay of money. “The FAB folks and artists were very willing and interested in being part of this, and we were fortunate for the first time around to get enough chairs donated. This may become an annual part of Art Walk every year,” he said.

Everyone is invited to view the chairs at the following locations, where they will be on display through Monday, June 21. The chairs can then be viewed as a collection at ArtSpace Gallery from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 24, and from 5 to 7:45 p.m. at Last Friday Art Walk on June 25.

The artist’s name for his or her piece, the artist and the location through Monday are listed below:

* “Rocking Pretty” by Tammy Schlosser, at Boyd Thomas Clothing

* “All Things Grow With Love,” by Gloria Nelson, at Sullivan’s

* “Altered Personality” by Katie Kinney, at The Knitting Nest

* “Garden Party” by Gail Karnopakis, at All Natural Health Food Shop

* “Colonial” by Ruth Phipps, Professional Hair Designs

* “Favorite Toys” by Marita Steward, CBBC on Broadway

* “Poppies” by Norma Riegel, CBBC

* “Trout” by Amy Campbell, at Dandy Lions

* “Mardi Gras” by Libby Deasnett, at FAB

* “Here’s to You” by Katie Kinney, at FAB

* “A Little Bit Country” by Karen Brackett, at FAB

* “Sexy Legs” (one of two) by Karen Brackett, at FAB

* “Sexy Legs” (one of two) by Karen Brackett, at MorningView Village

* “Seat of Enchantment” by Susan Tolson, at MorningView Village

* “Color Bound” by Karen Miller, at Hastings Bookstore

* “Front Reef Seating” by Cindy McDannel, at Hastings Bookstore

* “Red, White and Blue” by Sallie Macy, at Elliot’s Boots

* “Leap and Learn” by Suzanne Stockfische (currently incomplete, unavailable until the auction)

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