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Kocen says she sees art as functional, even if it's hanging on a wall: "If people are buying art for their home to hang on the wall, they see it every day, and that's a function, if you think about it."

Such usual suspects as local painters Ed Trask and Andras Bality are represented in "Entering the Interior," as is local metal artist Maurice Beane, whose classical-yet-modern benches look very different in two of the vignettes. Kocen admits that some of the pairings were happy accidents, like the Farida Hughes painting, "Bird Calls," with its subtle leaf pattern and the maple lily-pad table by Harrison Higgins. The artists were selected based on their talents, and the gallery had no idea what pieces they'd submit. It was up to Rentz to envision them paired in an interior.

The gallery is so pleased with the results and its collaboration with the designers that Kocen is thinking of making the show an annual event. "We really don't have any interaction unless they're looking for something for a client," she says, "so it was nice to have four [designers] down here moving stuff around."

Unlike regular art shows, if customers buy something from the exhibit, they don't have to wait till the end of the show before they can take it home. As a result, the exhibit is constantly changing. "With this show, we thought two months would be too long to wait for a new piece of furniture," Kocen says. — Carrie Nieman



"Entering the Interior" runs through Sept. 12 at Rentz Gallery, 1700 W. Main St., (804) 358-5338, www.rentzgallery.com.

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