Painted chairs and other exotic forms of seating are high profile in the decorative arts.
It's a trend that Maryland Art Place, the West Saratoga Street downtown art center, will salute during the coming week in furniture exhibitions and an auction.
Meredith Gallery on Charles Street will also show chairs and other samples of contemporary work by nine Maryland furniture designers, with part of the proceeds from the exhibition to be contributed to the Maryland Art Place program.
The painted chair idea will range wide, historically speaking, in the MPA show -- three separate exhibitions illustrating various periods and trends. The golden age of Maryland classical furniture, 1750-1840, will be illustrated by samples of famous Baltimore painted chairs of the early 19th century.
Modern painted chairs will star in an unusual show called "Take a Seat," billed as "a contemporary continuation of the Baltimore painted-chair tradition." The painted wooden folding chairs were assembled by invitation from 100 area artists.
Famous-name designer chairs will also be included -- works by Billy Baldwin, Charles Eames, Jon Brooks and James Evanson, among them.
Of special interest is a "Diana chair" designed by Rita St. Clair of Baltimore, recipient of the 1981 Daphne award for the best commercially produced upholstered chair.
Mario Buatta, New York decorator-celebrity, is honorary chairman and host of the event, and one of his chairs will be sold during a Saturday auction of many exhibit items.
The gala dinner and auction is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Saturday. For tickets to the event, call 962-8565 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Maryland Art Place chair exhibits are open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays and will remain on display through September.
The Meredith gallery show, "Made in Maryland," opened last week. Hours for the gallery, at 805 N. Charles St., are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. The exhibit will run through Sept. 28.