Patrons visiting the Al. Ringling Theatre gallery this month will be encouraged to take a seat.
Fifteen chairs transformed into works of art will be displayed throughout October. Patrons visiting the gallery can place bids between $25 and $50 on the chairs, with the winners taking them home at month’s end.
“They can buy it on the spot if they want to,” exhibit organizer Carol Kratochwill said.
Each month, the Al. Ringling Theatre Friends bring in a fresh exhibit by a local artist. For October, the group challenged artists to take an ordinary chair and embellish it in a style befitting the historic playhouse.
Ringling House Bed & Breakfast co-owner Julie Hearley said she spent 16 hours beautifying a chair she found at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. She painted it and adorned it with shaggy blue fabric.
“Everything was under $10, I think,” she said. “It was a nice creative outlet for me. And we get to do something for the theater, too.”
Art judges will evaluate the chairs next week. The public will be able to vote for their favorites on the gallery’s Facebook page. The top chair will become part of the theater’s permanent collection.
“It’s just a chance for them to create something and exhibit it,” Kratochwill said.
Artists were challenged to create chairs that are both beautiful and functional. “I think everybody achieved that,” said Mary Hultman, the theater’s marketing manager.
Kratochwill said the gallery will present another challenge — asking artists to create beautiful boxes — in the spring. For now, patrons can see chairs beautified in a variety of styles, including one adorned with pictures of Wisconsin’s Capitol.
“They’re all very unique in their own little way,” Hearley said.