Art You Can Sit On…

But First You Need to Bid on It!

IMG_0032There aren’t that many pieces of art that you can sit on, but the AIRdirondack chairs that have become a traditional part of ARTember fit the bill.

The leadup to the sixth annual Ravenswood AIRdirondack Art Project & Gala places a dozen of the wooden chairs on display around Airdrie, each one meticulously painted by a local artist. On Sept. 12, McArthur Fine Furniture will once again host a lavish gala where the chairs will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to fund Creative Airdrie and its efforts to promote the arts in this city.

“This is the only fundraising event Creative Airdrie does throughout the year,” says executive director Erika Holter.

This year’s gala, which officially kicks off the ARTember festivities, will feature performance art and roaming-type artists, as well as live music. “Instead of having strictly music, we wanted – in the interest of this being an arts gala – to incorporate some element of live art and performance art,” Holter says.

Among the artists whose work is adorning the AIRdirondack chairs this year are furniture “re-creator” Jennifer Pyykonen, henna artist Samreen Junaid, painter Delree Dumont, and award-winning artist and bodypainter Amanda Tozser.

“Instead of having strictly music, we wanted … to incorporate some element of live art and performance art.”

Tozser has several chairs in this year’s project: two children’s chairs – one with a superhero theme, another based on Frozen – and a third chair for adults inspired by the films of Tim Burton.

“I did a chair last year, and in my art background I do airbrushing and I used to paint for Disney,” says Tozser, who used to paint murals promoting Disney films showing at Famous Players cinemas across the Prairies. She’s also done film and theatre makeup and has even done bodypainting for Cirque du Soleil.

IMG_0039“I did a poll asking people on my Facebook page, ‘If you could have a chair, what would be your top thing?’” Tozser says. “Out of the few hundred people who did the questionnaire, many came back with Frozen and superhero-themed!”

The AIRdirondack chairs are on display in businesses and other locations around Airdrie, such as 4Cats Arts Studio and Brewsters Brewing Company & Restaurant (where Tozser’s chairs can be found), TD Canada Trust and Good Earth Coffeehouse, as well as at city hall.

On Sept. 2, all the chairs will be relocated to CrossIron Mills, where they’ll be on display until the auction on Sept. 12.

Last year’s gala raised nearly $25,000, Holter says, adding that this year’s auction will allow proxy bidding for the chairs for those who cannot attend.

Also featured will be a silent auction. “Something new this year is we’re giving people not only an opportunity to put down their bids on [merchandise], we’re also giving people a chance to bid to sponsor specific arts programs,” says Holter. “If an individual wants to sponsor a specific program, [he or she] can bid on that and maybe become the one responsible for bringing that program to Airdrie.”

Creative Airdrie co-founder Veronica Funk says that the AIRdirondack chairs take their place among other signature art projects around the world.

“It really has grown,” Funk says. “And the funding helps support other artists in Airdrie. What a difference, even in five years, for arts in the community.”

Tickets to the fifth annual Ravenswood AIRdirondack Art Project & Gala are $100 per person or $300 for a VIP package that includes a night in a hotel and transportation to the event at McArthur Fine Furniture, 141 Gateway Dr. NE. Along with McArthur, event sponsors include Qualico, The Carre Group, Beauti-Tone and Home Hardware Building Centre.

To order tickets – and for more information about the project and other ARTember events – visit

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