A Traveling Show

“The Allegory of Motherhood,” by Kristi Ryba, from the “Suitcase” exhibit at Upstairs Artspace.

You can always count on Upstairs Artspace in Tryon to ride the cutting edge, and they’re sharpening up for spring with no less than three exhibits, debuting this week on the same day: March 12.

Eleven artists from all over have contributed to the high-concept The Red Suitcase: A Traveling Show, where the featured artwork is required to fit, logistically and aesthetically, into the eponymous carrying case.

Gallery Director Tom Madison explains that “this is a collaborative project assembled by artist Mary Walker. Mary came across a large red suitcase and had eleven sections constructed to fit within. She then asked ten other artists to complete a work to fit within a specific section.”

It’s an exhilarating exercise in miniature, but the concept is large: the resulting “group show” travels around the country.

“Once the piece arrives at the gallery, the installer merely removes the black straps holding it shut, sits it upright on a pedestal and opens it,” says Madison. “Voilà! — an instant art exhibit!”

In addition to Mary Walker, the artists represented are Tom Stanley, Kristi Ryba, Jeff Kopish, Linda Fantuzzo, Aya Kawano, Nancy Marshall, Lucy Clark, David Higginbotham, John McWilliams, and Shaun Cassidy.

“The gallery has created a chapel-like environment for the work where it reads like an altar piece, with a bench provided for quiet contemplation,” says Madison.

Also on tap: Have a Seat: Eight Designers of Contemporary Chairs, curated by Sherry Masters, is regional in focus and more fine-artsy than crafty in execution. The show features work by progressive woodcrafters such as Brian Fireman and Brian Boggs.

The third exhibit, New Faces 2016, is Upstairs Artspace’s selective group show, a party of five who are not necessarily beginning artists, but are making their debut at this important foothills gallery. Names such as William Henry Price, Karen Weihs, and Daniel McClendon (plus Pamela Winkler and Bryan Hiott) may not be new to collectors, but their inclusion in this triple-header spring event heralds a lively season.

“The Red Suitcase: A Traveling Show,” “Have a Seat: Eight Designers of Contemporary Chairs,” and “New Faces 2016” debut March 12 and run through April 22 at Upstairs Artspace (49 S. Trade Street, Tryon). For more information, call 828-859-2828 or visit upstairsartspace.org.

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