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How sofas stack up as art in Sacramento

Art patrons watch a showing of the film “Die Hard” as part of the art installation called “Couchbleachers“ at the Verge Center for the Arts in Sacramento on Friday.
Art patrons watch a showing of the film “Die Hard” as part of the art installation called “Couchbleachers“ at the Verge Center for the Arts in Sacramento on Friday. rbenton@sacbee.com

All due respect to artist Nate Page and his “couchbleachers” art installation at the Verge Center for the Arts, but Sacramento resident Nick Leonti is convinced he came up with the idea first.

“They ripped that off of us. We didn’t call it ‘art,’ we called it ‘comfortable,’ ” joked Leonti, Director of Tourism at the Sacramento Convention &Visitors Bureau.

He and his then college-aged friends’ solution to their ownership of an overabundance of sofas was to create back-row seating by placing one couch on a sturdy coffee table.

The setup “was great for video games and watching football,” Leonti said.

Page takes what Leonti and surely others stumbled upon to the next level with 40 reclaimed couches on a tiered platform stretching 15 feet high.

“He wants sculpture that can be experienced architecturally – where an individual can touch it, move through it, climb on it, etc,” reads the exhibition notes on couchbleachers. “Couchbleachers are accessible to audiences as both art and functional object.”

In that spirit, the couchbleachers are meant to be climbed upon and used. Verge, which is both a gallery and artist’s space, is offering an array of programs utilizing the space.

About 600 people used all five rows of sofas during the Jan. 10 opening reception. On Friday, a dozen people got comfortable for the Friday Lunch Hour Movie showing “Die Hard.” Upcoming couchbleacher programming includes: Stories on Stage Presents Tobias Wolff, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m.; Feral Art in Sacramento: Bill Burg on the History of Art in the Region, Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m.; and 2nd Saturday Kiss-In on Feb. 14 at 6 p.m..

“Forty is a lot of couches,” said Liv Moe, executive director of Verge, located at 625 S Street. “It’s just like bleachers, pretty much.”

The majority of the couches were donated by people in the community, with seven or so picked up at second-hand stores, Moe said.

Moe said she was attracted to Page, a Los Angeles-based artist, because of his knack for creating work that activates a space.

Quirky is one way to describe Page’s work. Examples include: “untitled: rug,” slabs of poured concrete on found couch cushions; “landscapetheater,” an above/below ground theater built into the desert sands; “gravel studio,” in which he filled the floor of his studio space with rocks, and “#nodoors,” a collection of photographs other motorists took of him driving his 1996 Toyota Corolla after removing the front doors.

Sacramento artist Alexandra Penny Booze offered emphatic praise of the installation Friday.

“This is the future of America,” she said. Booze said she doesn’t watch television, but this would make even the Super Bowl better. “This is what the bleachers of the future will be like.”

Call The Bee’s Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @NewsFletch.

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