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Upstairs Artspace Entices Art Buyers with Mysterious Opening

A highly anticipated part of the holiday season for art enthusiasts, Upstairs Artspace gallery’s annual exhibition and fundraiser, 100 X 100, opens on Saturday, December 10, from 5–7:30 p.m. The show, featuring 100 of the Foothills’ best-known artists selling works for $100 each, will run through Saturday, December 17.

Unique to the 100 X 100 opening reception is the game-like competition among buyers and the withholding of artists’ identities for the duration of the exhibit. Participating artists are instructed not to sign the front of their works so that buyers are left guessing about the creator of their favorite pieces.

“Because of the anonymity,” says executive director Michele Deudne, “some artists have taken the opportunity to expand their repertoire, creating works that are different from the style for which they are known. The artists have fun and there is a huge variety of art. Buyers have fabulous choices and a little bit of mystery in the bargain.”

Another unusual twist to the event is the secret location of the sales desk until it ‘pops up’ at the end of the evening. “When doors open, people rush to find their ‘treasures,'” says board director Clare O’Sheel. “They write their choices on a slip of paper, and several people are likely to have written down the same number. The next hurdle to winning your $100 original art piece is to be at the front of the sales line at the right time.”

Since the sales desk location is unknown until the last minute, there is a bit of a race to purchase. The first buyer in line gets to purchase the first two pieces on his or her list, but has to return to the end of the line for additional selections. This is to ensure that as many people as possible get their first pick.

Scott Lane, Artspace board president, jokingly likens the art-buying rush to the push and shove of an exciting rugby match. “Owing mostly to the genteel nature of our supporters,” he says, “no injuries have been reported during the first-come/first-served scrum that always seems to develop.”

Buyers are invited to pick up the pieces they’ve acquired when the exhibit closes on December 17th. Works can then be turned over by the buyer for the ‘big reveal’—when artists’ identities are discovered.

In addition to the 100 professional works on sale during the exhibition, there will also be a 100 X 25 show with canvases from the students at Tryon and Landrum elementary schools and Polk County Middle School. These works are priced at $25.

“So put on your running shoes and start sprint training,” says O’Sheel. “Join the crowd for the running of the art lovers!”

Upstairs Artspace is a nonprofit gallery located at 49 S. Trade Street, Tryon. The opening reception for 100 X 100 is free and open to the public. For more information, see upstairsartspace.org.

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