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Chair-ity Fashion Show for The Franklin School of Innovation

Sarah Faulkner, artist

On Wednesday, April 3, District Wine Bar will host a Chair-ity Fashion Show to raise funds for desks, chairs and other furnishings for The Franklin School of Innovation, a public charter school serving WNC students in grades 5–12. The evening features a fast- paced runway show of seating designed by The Artful Chair owner Jenny Ellis, as well as a silent and live auction of art donated by prominent WNC artists. The event will take place from 6:30–9 p.m. and include champagne and light bites.

“As a tuition-free public charter school, we receive public funds for each student who attends; however, we do not receive the capital funds typically used by schools to purchase buildings and buses,” says The Franklin School’s executive director Michelle Vruwink. “We obtained a loan from Capital Bank/1st Tennessee to finance our new building, but we need to raise donations to help purchase furnishings.”

The auction will be conducted by Bird Bartlett and Duke Domingue of Duke Says Sold and will include artwork in a variety of media and styles. Many donating artists will be present at the event. Two chairs—one designed by Ellis and the other by a Franklin School student—will be auctioned as well. The remaining chairs in the show will be available for purchase, with 10 percent of the sale price going toward the school’s furniture fund.

“I’ve always thought a chair runway show would be a great fundraising idea,” says Ellis. “I think people will want to come just out of curiosity. It will be like nothing anyone has ever seen.” Ellis draws from years of experience in fabric arts and furniture design to restore discarded and broken seating using rich finishes and vibrant fabrics and trims. More than 20 of her latest designs will be shown by Franklin School students made runway- ready by Ashes & Steel Studio stylists. The chair collection will be divided into four categories: creative, fun, wild and glamorous. “When people walk into my studio and see my chairs for the first time, their jaws often drop,” says Ellis. “And I always get a smile.”

The first phase of the school’s permanent facility, which includes classrooms, offices and a large, multipurpose community room, is scheduled for completion in August 2019. In addition to desks and chairs, the school hopes to purchase equipment for science labs, art and music rooms, and furniture for common and reception areas. “The new spaces will better support the creative teaching and learning that is already taking place in classrooms, especially with some of the common areas where students will be able to collaborate in more inviting environments,” says Vruwink. “We’ll be able to hold dances, performances and community meetings on our own campus!”

The fundraising goal for the event is $75,000. Artists donating work for auction include Angela Alexander, Callie Ferraro Ayers, Richard Baker, Mark Bettis, Cindy Lou Chenard, Deanna Chilian, Molly Courcelle, Tess Darling, Philip DeAngelo, Frances Domingues, Sarah Faulkner, Cheryl Keefer, Rand Kramer, Elise Okrend, Jeff Pittman, Leslie Rowland, Jane Schmidt, Bee Sieburg and Wendy Whitson.

District Wine Bar is located at 37 Paynes Way, Suite 009, in Asheville. Tickets are $75. To purchase tickets or make a donation, visit and click on the “giving” tab.

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