A new art project starting up in downtown Needham seeks to connect local businesses, artists and residents in a fun new way.
Through the Needham Merchants Association’s “A Chair to Remember” Adirondack Chair Exhibit and Auction project, unfinished Adirondack chairs will be transformed into works of art, displayed at about 20 shops around town and eventually auctioned off with proceeds to support the community.
The group is currently looking for artists willing to participate in the project as well as Needham businesses to sponsor a chair by purchasing one and placing it a window or front of the store from July through September.
“We were trying to think of ways to inspire people to ‘Discover Needham’—we want people to discover Needham and see that it is really a unique, interesting place. What better way than to have a collaboration between businesses and artists?” said Nancy Wright, owner of and a member of the NMA. “We thought it would be an interesting way to bring people downtown, to walk around Needham and see what’s going on, and to shop Needham first.”
The idea was sparked, in part, by a recent trip to Vermont. NMA member Jack McQuillan and his wife were visiting the town of Brandon, VT after dropping off their son at college when they noticed bright yellow Adirondack chairs placed in front of shops around town.
The promotion got McQuillan thinking, and he brought the idea back to the NMA—a group formed about three months ago to promote downtown Needham businesses. Drawing a little from the Brandon, VT project and a little from public art projects such as CowParade, the group developed a plan for Needham.
“I thought maybe it would be a fun idea to do in Needham to try to get the community together, and to see if the restaurants and merchants around town could sponsor something like that—and that it might just get Needham 'on the map,' as they say," said McQuillan, who co-owns .
Artists who are interested in designing a chair for the project are encouraged to contact Nancy Wright at email@example.com or 781-449-7227 for an application and guidelines. Artists will be paired up with businesses around town and will develop pieces under a theme of “A Chair to Remember.” They will have about six weeks to complete the chairs, until the end of June, and then the chairs will be displayed at sponsoring businesses around Needham from July 1 to Sept. 28.
The NMA is also looking businesses that are interested in sponsoring a chair for about $100 each. Contact Wright for more information.
The approximately 20 Adirondack chairs will be auctioned off at an event to be held on Saturday, Sept. 29 at . Local residents will be able to see all the finished chairs, meet the artists and bid on the chairs with the chance to take one home. Proceeds from the auction will be used for scholarships at and town beautification projects, according to Wright.
The Adirondack chair project is part of the NMA’s new “Discover Needham” campaign, which is aimed at drawing more people to the downtown area to dine, shop and gather.
The group is also working on creating a welcome bag for real estate brokers to hand out to new Needham homeowners, containing gift cards from Needham businesses that want to participate, McQuillan said.
And the group creating a new "Discover Needham" loyalty discount card, similar to the Power Card that has been sold by the Needham Women’s Club and the in the past and which will provide discounts at participating businesses around town. The cards would be free and handed out to people who come into stores or restaurants in Needham. Customers would, in turn, sign up to receive quarterly e-mail newsletters about events and promotions in Needham, McQuillan said. The cards should be available by June 1.