Artist Chad Pratch and the Art Chair Art Auction


Chad Pratch (left) and Volcanic Hills proprietor Bobby Gidea have a little fun with Pratch’s highly dysfunctional chair—it’s missing two legs.

What do you do with 200 broken, disheveled, and generally disregarded chairs?

This was the question for Chad Pratch, the final artist to create an installation in the Kelowna Art Gallery’s multi-year Dysfunctional Chairs series.

The exhibitions included six commissioned interpretations of “dysfunctional chairs,” as inspired by two pieces in the gallery’s permanent collection—a boat that doesn’t float (Peter von Thiesenhausen’s stick-boat suspended in the entrance), and a bell that doesn’t ring (Mark Gomes wicker bell over the door).

Pratch’s approach to the project involved drawing the community into his work by asking people to offer up their unwanted and dysfunctional chairs so he could build a piece, both interactive and inventive, that played on how society labels objects.

The idea struck a chord. Suspending the rejected chairs inside the gallery’s courtyard, with a soundtrack of the donors describing why they wanted the furniture gone, the work was such a hit, the artist soon found himself taking requests for the once unwanted seats when the piece came down.

And so it was last Monday that the creator found himself with a dysfunctional conundrum of his own.

“I just thought where are all the chairs going to go? And I kept getting those questions from people,” he said. “I asked a couple of auctioneers and they didn’t want to touch it because they’re all these old haggard chairs…So (they didn’t see) why would somebody would want to buy them?”

He approached secondhand furniture dealer Lois Lane​ to see if some might be sold from her Cawston Avenue store and, while she agree to take them on, she also offered up a suggestion. Perhaps, the chairs could be repurposed once more as entirely new pieces of art.

Now, Pratch is an interactive kind of artist.

“For artist Chad Pratch, the equation of art is not balanced until someone has experienced his work,” Kelowna Art Gallery curator Liz Wylie explained in her summation of his original piece.

“Like the over-used Zen koan about the sound of one hand clapping, art without the participation of an audience is not of interest to him,” she said. “It is when there is some reaction and behaviour on the part of a viewer that his enthusiasm ignites.”

Always an organizer seeking new opportunities for artists, the idea of perpetuating the project by getting more artists involved to create several new project appealed. And so the final phase of the Dysfunctional Chair series was born—the Art Chair Art Auction.

Fourteen local artists have picked out chairs work on, including Amy Burkard, Jolene Mackie, Evelyne Macmillan, Cherie Hanson, Carmen Tome, Joanne Gervais, Chris Croy, Shaunna Oddleifson, Ute Camphausen, Darren Sim, Lance Lindbloom, Connor McCloskey, Lois Lane and Pratch. And the artists will keep what they earn from the project themselves.

“A lot of times, if they are going to show at a gallery, the artist needs to give the gallery 50 per cent of the earnings in commission, and if it’s an auction, the proceeds often go to charity,” Pratch explained. “It’s actually kind of ironic because, you know, they’re starving artists right? So artists are creating these pieces for people that are starving, or don’t have homes, when a lot of them are scrounging by and they’re barely holding their rent.”

Pratch has placed absolutely no limits on the work, save it cannot be lude or promote hate. The event will be held at Volcanic Hills Estate Winery where proprietor Bobby Gidda says he doesn’t really know what’s in store for his wine shop other than a pretty unique experience.

“It’s my first art show, so expectations are, well, I’m keeping them low, so that whatever happens they’re up here,” he said holding a hand above his head.

For his part, Pratch said the chair he will repurpose for the effort, a one-time Bean Scene seat now missing half its legs, will be illuminated with the help of an electrical engineer and weight sensors. The artists producing work come out of university art programs and earn their livelihood from their work, so he expects the work will be top caliber.

The Art Chair Art Auction will be held at Volanic Hills Winery, 2845 Boucherie Road, West Kelowna beginning at 6 p.m. Dec. 16—everyone is welcome.

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