Chair Maker Doesn’t Take the “Life as Art” Idea Sitting Down

“Art isn’t just the stuff we make,” declares Pedro Esqueda. “It’s our whole life.” He’s proof positive of that, as his work expands into diverse mediums to follow the drumbeat of his life. 

Yep, he’s a drummer. 

Pedro Esqueda poses with one of his Monster Head chairs, fluffy creations he crafts at his mom’s shop Nelly’s Upholstery.
Photo by Audrey Goforth

Esqueda’s also a sketch artist and painter who studied film and animation. He’s a comic-book author, illustrator, and publisher, and he performs with Tom Chalmers’ improv troupe “Skipping to the Good Parts.” But lately, Esqueda is busy turning ordinary chairs into extraordinary monster heads. 

“I was taking this chair apart at my mom’s store, Nelly’s Upholstery,” he begins. (Esqueda moved to the Asheville area from Los Angeles to help his mother with her new business, and says he ended up “learning the trade and finding my niche.”)  

Googly eyes give the chairs a unique “face.”
Photo by Audrey Goforth

“My brother makes crocheted dolls, and he gave me a fistful of eyes he uses,” Esqueda goes on. “I grabbed one of those and pushed it against the chair. Then I thought that maybe I’d put a mouth on the seat to make it artsy. My mom, with her seamstress skills, sat with me and went over the possibilities of hand stitching the teeth.”

Monster Head Chairs were born, along with inherently delightful dilemmas. These are the kind of playful chairs people want to give to their children — but they also want to keep them for themselves. And although sitting on them is definitely cushy, getting up in order to study them closer may be even more rewarding. 

This fluffy number looks fetching in the foliage.
Photo by Audrey Goforth

If that sounds like a metaphor for life, take a tip from the artist. “Life,” Esqueda believes, “is one big piece of art.” But as his art imitates life and vice-versa, Esqueda has a practical goal in mind. 

“I think art can be a form of service work. I’m designing Monster Head Chairs to donate to libraries or children’s hospitals. My improv group does shows at retirement centers, to bring a laugh to people who maybe don’t have anyone to talk to. I created this comic about a mouse named Anony-Mouse, who got sober. I was actually on my own recovery journey, and I thought it might help someone else.”

Pedro Esqueda with tool.
Photo by Audrey Goforth

At press time, Esqueda was preparing a “sculptural furniture” piece for a June group show, Beyond Knowing, about the exploration of human consciousness. Outside of gallery confines, the multimedia maker suggests a liberating self-help strategy for anyone needing to bolster their confidence.

“If you do something bad, you try not to get caught, right? But I think the way to build your self esteem is do good things and try not to get caught. Do nice things, but keep them to yourself. Keep doing nice things where nobody but you sees you do them.”

Pedro Esqueda’s Monster Head Chairs are sold at Nelly’s Upholstery (2640 Hendersonville Road, Arden, “Nelly’s Upholstery” on Facebook) and at ZaPow Gallery (150 Coxe Ave., Asheville, zapow.com). His “Anony-Mouse” comic book is carried at Firestorm Books (610 Haywood Road, West Asheville) and at Downtown Books & News (67 North Lexington Ave.). Esqueda’s work will be in the Beyond Knowing exhibit at the Asheville Area Arts Council Main Exhibition Space through Friday, June 21 (ashevillearts.com/exhibitions/beyond-knowing). His improv troupe “Skipping to the Good Parts” performs every first Friday of the month at 7pm at Fractals Coffee Shop & Cafe (547 Haywood Road, West Asheville, fractalscoffee.com). For more information, check out @monsterheadfurniture and @anonymousecomix on Instagram. The artist can be reached at monsterheadfurniture@gmail.com or at 828-505-6488.

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