Silicon Valley Open Studios

Connecting artists to art enthusiasts

Artist: Karen Spiro

Studio: Artisanal Chairs

Frieda + Monkey
Title: Frieda + Monkey
Description: Acrylic on wood, fabric seat
Media: Furniture/Woodworking
Size: 17 x 35 x 18
artist thumbnails
artist thumbnails
artist thumbnails

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Contact Karen Spiro



Phone:(215) 432-5476

2019  Showings

May 18 - 19 , Site: 202
1106 Willow Glen Way
San Jose, CA 95125


About Karen Spiro

I am trained as an artist (Philadelphia College of Art) with extensive studies in art history (New York University), but, generally, my livelihood has been unrelated to art (fundraising and special events).
Thirty years ago, I started a business—Primarily Portraits—where I match portrait subjects with artists who can make their vision a reality. We have been commissioned by hospitals, universities, corporations and individuals to document a moment in time. Fore me, portraits are always front of mind.
I lived most of my life in the Philadelphia region. In 1991, I left my tiny house in Center City for a carriage house in Germantown. With expanded space, I needed a dining table and chairs. So, I made a table out of a door—with cast iron legs—and covered it with a pattern of marble papers. I went to Goodwill and other used-furniture stores and gathered up a bunch of lonely chairs. One day, sitting at the table, I thought it might be fun to paint portraits on the chairs so I wouldn’t be eating alone.
Fortunately, the carriage house had a great space for a studio: the tack room. It was so much fun! I kept painting, even when my dining room was full. Actually, I couldn’t stop. When the Philadelphia Art Museum had a Cezanne show in 1996, I painted and sold Cezanne chairs.
Then in 1998, I moved back to Center City to a lovely house, but it had no studio space. Eighteen years later, when I moved to California I found a little house with a garage that was too small for my car, but the right size for a studio. I was back in business!
My style has evolved over nearly 30 years of painting. I like to find chairs that speak to me of a certain time, a certain artist. The early chairs are simpler: a portrait, another painting or design on the back of the seat and brightly colored legs. After a while, the chairs became more decorative with nearly every surface covered in images and patterns.
Now I am thinking in vignettes, such as the set “Italian Memories.” Next up, French memories. I’ll keep on painting whatever I like, but I am thrilled to have commissions so I can collaborate with a buyer.