If my dad hadn't been watching a three o'clock news program and if I hadn't been at his house making out his grocery list, I probably wouldn't have know about a wonderful exhibit at the Arkansas Arts Center until it was over. It wasn't the type of exhibit I expect to be at the Arts Center. When I think of art exhibits I think of photography, paintings, or sculptures. This exhibit was "The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design" sounded intriguing! And, it was!
Beside it sat a Rocking Arm Chair designed and made by the Mount Lebanon Shaker Community, New York, about 1840. I loved the chair, I really did, but the shadows below it captivated me.
The intricate carvings on some of the chairs were breathtaking. These two different Slipper Chairs (on the right in the photo above) were carved out of rosewood about 1855 and 1860 by John Henry Belter. The low seat height made it easier for 19th-century women to put on their stockings, slippers, and other attire. I could use one of these for putting on my shoes!
And then we came to this lovely ruby red chair. In the 19th century furniture makers became enchanted by what was know as "patent furniture." Patent furniture was created by using either new materials or a unique process of manufacturing for which a patent was sought from the government. One such chair is the Centripetal Spring Arm Chair, designed by Thomas E. Warren and manufactured by the American Chair Company of New York in 1850. The stationary back and seat sit on light cast iron springs. The chair could rock vertically and laterally rotating in any direction by just shifting your weight as you sit. My grandsons would love to sit and wiggle in this chair. We might have to change the fabric color. I don't think they'd like the red or the fringe! It looks a little feminine.
As the chair became more modern they didn't appeal to me as much. They were unique and interesting, but they didn't have the nostalgic feel of the older ones. I have an old soul that loves really old things!
The exhibit, though so very different from any I've seen at the Arts Center, was both fascinating and enlightening. Who knew chairs could be art! Let me leave you with a quote that was written on the wall as we entered the exhibit area.
"The discontented man finds no easy chair."
~ Benjamin Franklin