Reason to sit and enjoy summer


GAC's "Pull Up a Chair" fundraiser slated for Aug. 8.

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Summertime is notoriously busy in the Gunnison Valley, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take an occasional break and sit together over dinner and some good tunes.

Gunnison Arts Center (GAC) is providing just that opportunity in its fittingly named “Pull Up A Chair” benefit Aug. 8. Music from local trio Jazz Cabin will fill the air over a barbecue brisket and chicken dinner from Montrose-based Hog Rock BBQ, all on the outdoor GAC Courtyard.

But the main attraction of the evening is a dozen chairs going to the highest bidders in both a silent and live auction. Local artists have created — or re-created — these pieces of furniture with their own touches.

Some are original works — such as a log bench crafted by master woodworker Wyatt Phipps. Other artists have refinished a chair under a specific theme.

Some even come with packages offering greater enticement. For instance, a “guest room” chair is accompanied by a collection meant to pamper — fuzzy socks, a candle and scented oils. Another garden-themed chair comes with a plant, spade and gloves.

As a preschool teacher, Jen Orth simply had to paint a chair sized just for kids and adorned with bright colors and flowers. She found the piece of furniture at a street market on the Front Range, leftover from a Denver-area school.

Orth asked friend Sally Hays to create a bag that accompanies the chair containing a donation of books from The Bookworm to complete the auction item. The chair even contains a message on the bottom emphasizing the joy of parents and kids reading together.

“The best part for me about teaching is all of the great books I get to read,” she said of the quote, which she placed on the chair to highlight the importance of “trying to make reading fun for everybody.”

Alysa VandenHeuval, GAC program and gallery director as well as an artist herself, received an antique rocking chair from Gunnison’s Hap and Narcissa Channell. The seat came from the couple’s garden, which inspired VandenHeuvel to transfer onto its seat an image of a red-and-white spotted mushroom.

Other works submitted by local artists incorporate leather upholstery, welded designs and various painted images. Additional chair-creating artists include Joe Bob Merritt, Nancy Gruber-Meier, Erin Jacobs and Abra Karbin, to name a few, and donations from Rocky Mountain Rose, Corner Cupboard, Fullmer’s Ace Hardware, Connors Orchard, Gunnison Arts Center Shop Artists and Tributary Coffee Roasters provide items to complete the packages.

The event marks new territory for a summertime GAC fundraiser.

“We wanted to do something that was a bigger fundraiser in the summertime,” said Executive Director Carlie Kenton. “We really haven’t done something like that before. It’s hard because everybody’s busy, but we wanted to do something that was interesting and fun but also showcased art in a unique and different way.”

Funds raised during the event will go toward supporting general operations of the GAC — from classes and scholarships to Sundays@6 live concerts, theater productions and gallery exhibits.

If weather doesn’t allow for activities in the Courtyard, the event will move to the Dance Studio upstairs.


(Will Shoemaker can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or


What: Pull Up A Chair: A benefit for the GAC
When: Wednesday, Aug. 8, 5:30 p.m.
Where: GAC Courtyard
What else: Tickets are $25 and include apps and drinks at 5:30 p.m., silent auction and dinner at 6 p.m., and live auction and dessert at 7:15 p.m. Reserve your ticket by contacting the GAC at 970.641.4029, by visiting or at 102 S. Main St.