It was a rocking chair that had been set out for trash collection. Gallagher, always on the lookout for items to include in her work, saw it and grabbed it up immediately.
To say it needed a little work might be an understatement. When Gallagher pulled away the seat cover, she uncovered a newspaper dated 1947. There were cracks in the wood, a missing spindle and some loose pieces and parts. But, Gallagher said, “somebody loved this chair”, which she believes is between 80 and 100 years old.
So it went home with her, and Gallagher’s husband, Tony, did a little repair work. After trying two or three different seat cushions, Gallagher decided to instead paint the wooden rocker.
It became not only a work of art, but also therapy for Gallagher. Her first grandchild, Gillian, was born at just 25 weeks and spent 140 days in a Cleveland hospital before coming home with her parents on Dec. 9. Watching her granddaughter struggle and her son and daughter-in-law make the daily trip to Cleveland took its toll on Gallagher. “I went into such a bad depression and it was horrible,” she said. “I didn’t want to see anyone or do anything.”
Instead, she started painting the rocking chair, covering it with lyrics from songs about dances. After all, she said, the WAGE show theme this year is “The Dance”.
She couldn’t sleep, she said, “so I worked on the chair.” The work continued for nine months.
And while she already had two pieces ready for the exhibit, the chair was also done in time. The exhibit, which opened Jan. 16 at the Wayne Center for the Arts, continues through Feb. 20 in the Gault and Looney galleries. Featured are 52 works of 20 local artists, all on “The Dance” theme suggested by Lorene Meier and agreed to by WAGE artists. More than 30 artists compose WAGE, which was founded in 1986. Members are required to attend at least four membership meetings in order to be eligible to participate in the annual show.
Many of the pieces are for sale, including Gallagher’s rocker, though she said she won’t be at all upset if it doesn’t find a buyer. It is art, she said, but it’s practical, too. “It is a really comfortable chair,” she said, with a wide seat. “It was probably a mother’s chair for rocking,” she said, one she hopes she can rock her granddaughter in someday.
“She loves to be rocked,” Gallagher said. “She loves to be sung to. It’s just been a real journey for them.”
Published: January 26, 2015