Follow the Chair-ity Trail
— Created July 27, 2022 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
Whidbey Island Nourishes is hoping its new-to-Whidbey fundraising idea is something people can really sit back and enjoy.
WIN’s Chair-ty Trail online auction kicks off Monday, Aug. 1 and features 15 Adirondack chairs that have been turned into pieces of original art by 16 local artists. The auction will run through Aug. 31, and all those interested can place their bids online. But everyone also has the opportunity to follow the Chair-ity Trail and see each of the 15 chairs up close and in person, to get an idea of the scope of talent represented; members of WIN will be at the Bayview Farmers Market Saturday with a couple of the chairs on the trail, and will be able to answer any questions and provide more information. The chairs can also be seen at chairity-trail.com, along with information about the chair’s location, its painting and its artist.
The WIN Chair-ity Trail was the brainchild of board member Mary Ann Stine, although she said she can’t claim the idea is completely original.
“I would love to say it’s unique, but it’s not,” she said. “I was actually in Cape Cod last year visiting relatives, and as I was going around, I kept seeing chairs painted by local artists. I thought, ‘You know, that’s something we could do on Whidbey. We have the artists.’
“The board had been talking for a while that the conventional dinner, auction and dance-type fundraiser was getting very tired,” Stine continued. “And with COVID, you can never plan on things going the way you want them to. So I started talking with people around town, asking what they thought about this, and people were pretty positive.”
Stine, who grew up in Oak Harbor and has always been community-minded, said she also wanted to do a fundraising project that would hopefully bring people together.
“When I got involved with WIN and other organizations, it felt like they were all operating in silos,” she said. “I thought if we did the chairs, we could involve the artists, the nonprofit and the businesses. They would all tie together.”
Through community connections and a bit of networking, everything came together. Artists volunteered their time and talent, other volunteers helped put chairs together. Stine reached out to the folks in Cape Cod to find out what kind of paint and finishing materials were needed, people donated money to provide paints to the artists and the Chair-ity Trail was born.
“The only theme we gave artists was that their chair had to be something about Whidbey that inspires them,” she said. “All the chairs are very unique and distinct.”
Each of the chairs has been placed at a business on South Whidbey for people to see before and during the month-long auction.
“We wanted to make sure we covered the area we serve through Whidbey Island Nourishes,” Stine said. “It just kept coming together and we’ve finally gotten to the point where it’s going to happen.”
Liesel Lund is one of the contributing artists on the Chair-ity Trail. Her chair is entitled “Garden by the Sea” and can be seen at Venture Out Plant Nursery in Langley.
“My intent is to create joyful work to inspire and uplift those who view it,” she said. “We all need things around us to remind us of the good things life offers. The chair-ity project was a fun way to engage with and contribute to my community here on Whidbey.
“I had a zillion ideas for the chair,” Lund continued. “Finally, I thought about what these chairs represent – they will be in someone’s private deck or yard and will part of their summer. So I decided to go with a joyful, summer scene to enhance their summer experience.”
Artist Michael Dickter likes to paint birds and animals on abstract backgrounds, so for him, an Adirondack chair wasn’t too abstract at all, and seemed a perfect fit.
“I’ve always been attracted to painting herons,” he said. “Seeing one fly is always a thrill. It seemed a natural thing to put on the chair.”
His piece, entitled “Heron,” can be seen at Museo Art Gallery in Langley.
“I like being part of a community that gives back,” Dickter said, adding he felt WIN was a good cause to which to contribute. “I think the arts community generally feels a commitment to reach out, be inclusive and help where we can. I would do it again. It’s a challenge to do something different, like paint a chair.”
For those who may not know, Whidbey Island Nourishes is a volunteer, nonprofit organization which provides supplemental food support to hundreds of youth on south Whidbey. Artist Laura Hudson said she was happy to contribute her work to WIN’s cause.
“I appreciate what WIN does for this community,” she said. “As a mom of three little children growing up here, I feel an extra investment in helping our community in ways that I can.”
Hudson’s chair, “Give a Cluck,” can be seen at Seabiscuit Bakery and Co. Café in Langley.
“I paint chickens a lot. It’s probably my main subject matter. So naturally, I thought I should put it on the chair! And well, I had to play with the word cluck; we should all give a cluck!”
Hudson said it feels good to donate creativity.
“I would absolutely do this again,” she said. “I love how it is going to help [WIN] financially, but also has the community and local businesses involved. It’s so fun!”
All proceeds from the Chair-ity Trail auction will benefit Whidbey Island Nourishes. Those interested can sign up at chairity-trail.com. The auction goes live Monday and runs through the end of August. Those interested in learning more about WIN can visit whidbeyislandnourishes.org.
For her part, Stine said this story’s not over yet.
“People have really liked it,” she said. “I know there’s been pigs, horses and chickens and rabbits, but to me, this is more functional. It feels to me this is something Langley could do every year. And people are already asking about next year.”