Patti Trobaugh, President of Upstairs Artspace, was chosen Volunteer of Year 2022 by the Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce. She received public recognition and a plaque on Saturday, Sept. 23, during the third annual Feed the Foothills at the Harmon Field Music Festival.
As Trobaugh walked to the outside stage to receive her plaque, Chamber President Catina Gray read the submitted introduction: “Not on my watch,” said Patti Trobaugh when faced with the very real possibility of Upstairs Artspace not reopening after a devastating flood in August 2021. At the time, the contemporary art gallery was in the midst of being restored after it was shut down because of a busted hot water heater that flooded the hard-wood floors, the carpet, and even the basement. It was a difficult and uncertain time, with both the flood and the Covid-19 pandemic shutting down the gallery for a full year.
But as one of the few remaining members of the Board of Directors, Patti, who was the volunteer Treasurer at the time, would not throw in the towel. She rolled up her sleeves to haul out wet and damaged flooring, paper records, but, thankfully no art was damaged. Without any staff, she personally negotiated with the insurance company, coordinated with the restoration company, and would not give up when those around her said, “just let it go.” From August 2021 to August 2022, Patti did whatever she could to make sure Upstairs Artspace would continue to present the best contemporary art to be found in Western North Carolina, giving of her time, energy, spirit, and personal money. She never lost hope, and today, a year later, Upstairs Artspace is alive and well with continuous exhibits, classes, and outreach programs.
Today, Patti is the hands-on President of the Board of Directors, a volunteer duty she takes very seriously but always with a smile and positive outlook.
By profession, Trobaugh is an interior designer. She is married to retired healthcare professional Tom Trobaugh. They have lived in Tryon since 2016, and both are highly involved in community activities and serve on multiple boards. She has served on Upstairs Artspace’s Board of Directors since 2018.
“We are all very proud of Patti and very thankful that she has given so much to the gallery,” President Elect 2024 Sandy Miller said. “Undoubtedly, if not Patti, Upstairs Artspace would in all likelihood not be here today. In the gallery’s darkest hour, she often stood alone shining a light that would lead us back to being a leading art gallery in Western North Carolina. I am thankful for her hard work and dedication, paving the way for better days and outstanding contemporary art.”