They must be giants: Big chairs on way to valley lawns
by Jack Deming
Apr 25, 2014 | 6657 views | 0 0 comments | 88 88 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Keith Rodney takes a break from making the big chairs that will become artists’ palettes for Mountain Chair Madness.
Keith Rodney takes a break from making the big chairs that will become artists’ palettes for Mountain Chair Madness.
DEERFIELD VALLEY- As the warmer months sweep into the valley, residents and businesses alike will pull out their deck and lawn furniture, but after July 4, it may appear as if the chairs have grown overnight.

Mountain Chair Madness, a public arts event organized by the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce, will feature 22, eight-foot-tall and four-foot-wide Adirondack chairs throughout Wilmington and Dover, along Route 100 and Route 9. Each chair will be located in front of a sponsoring business, and will feature its own special design by artists throughout the valley.

According to chamber executive director Adam Grinold, the chamber board was looking to put on another public arts project, geared toward creating visible, outdoor attractions that would encourage visitors to leave their cars. Past projects have included painted statues of bears, “Vermonster” sculptures, and an Adirondack loveseat project called “The best seat in Vermont.” Grinold said that not only are the chairs fun to look at and sit on, as the owner of Wahoo’s Eatery he knows firsthand that they also work as magnets for businesses. After all, what could be more visible than an eight-foot-tall chair?

“First Trax had one built, the Matterhorn had one built, and at Wahoo’s we have one too,” said Grinold. “We’ve had a large amount of people who have stopped by just to take pictures and climb in it.”

Grinold also said that while past public arts projects have served as fundraisers, Mountain Chair Madness aims to make a statement. “This project is more about the board wanting to let the world know that we’re ready to take on projects like this again as a community. The most important part was having this program available for our visitors as attractions through the valley.”

Each sponsorship for a chair was $1,000, which covers the costs of materials from WW Building Supply, and includes a $200 stipend for artists transforming these wooden behemoths into art projects. If sponsors wish to keep their chairs, it costs an extra $800, while those not bought will go to an auction on Columbus Day weekend to raise funds for the chamber’s marketing efforts and future projects.

Twenty-two chairs are included in the project and will be listed on a map to help visitors find each chair. The chamber is also running a picture contest for the event, asking chair-seekers to take group pictures, pet pictures, family pictures, and yes, “selfies,” which will be chosen for posting on the chamber’s Facebook page.

Keith Rodney, of Sheerness Wood Works in Wilmington, was the winning bidder to build the reclined giants, a field he has experience in after building an 11-foot-tall chair for First Trax in Dover, and Wahoo’s 10-foot-tall chair. While he has designs drawn up for the 17-foot chair he someday plans to build, the eight-footers are keeping him busy, as they begin to multiply in his garage.

With a due date of May 31, Rodney has already constructed six of the 22 chairs needed.

Each one takes about four hours to construct, ends up weighing 250 pounds, and is about two and a half times larger than your average Adirondack chair. “It’s a little repetitive,” said Rodney, “but I love the actual process. The end project is very nice for me because I like to take pieces of wood and work with them, whether it’s Adirondack chairs or interior kitchen cabinets.”

Eight by four feet is a size Rodney says is just right, because the chairs are just skinny enough to fit in his work trailer, as well as your average French door or garage door, should an artist need to work indoors.

Rodney is putting three chairs together each week so that he has time to work on other jobs. The army of large chairs massed together is a strange sight, but Rodney says he is looking forward to seeing them along the sides of the valley roads.

The chamber had originally expected approximately 10 chairs to be sponsored, and with the project doubling their expectations, Grinold said the July 4 to Columbus Day weekend event will give more people more reasons to drive through the valley. “So we far exceeded our goals, and this will be a visible, summer attraction for our visitors, as they make their way through our valley to see these.”
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