The symbol of the iconic Adirondack chair is no small thing. Originally created by a man named Thomas Lee for his family’s vacation home near Lake Champlain, it has long been associated with vacation homes and relaxing near the water.
With its deep, angled seat and wide-arm design, the Adirondack chair is a Cape Cod summer staple.
This summer, almost two dozen of these iconic chairs will take on new identities at the creative hands of local artists; they will then be featured throughout the town of Sandwich as part of an artisans trail.
In collaboration with Sandwich businesses, organizations, and local artists, the Sandwich Arts Alliance is creating an Adirondack Chair Trail, much like the Starfish Trail of 2017.
“It’s a fun thing,” codirector of development for the Arts Alliance Joanne Westerhouse said. “It drives people to visit businesses in town they might not have known before.”
Twenty-two Adirondack chairs, uniquely decorated by artists—including a Sandwich High School teacher who will involve his students in the project—have been paid for by the businesses that are sponsoring them.
Businesses in town will display them between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The Sandwich Chamber of Commerce summer guidebook will feature the chairs on its cover, and maps will be provided to enable visitors to make their way through the Town of Sandwich chair by chair if they so choose.
In September, the chairs will be auctioned off as an Arts Alliance fundraiser.
Rick Quast, owner of Canning’s Service Center on Route 6A in East Sandwich, participated in the Arts Alliance’s Starfish Trail two summers ago, and he is sponsoring an Adirondack chair this summer.
“It was very artsy and tasteful; very nicely done,” Mr. Quast said of the Starfish Trail. The Starfish Artisans Trail brought a lot people to his business, he said, and he expects the Adirondack chairs to do the same.
By the time summer arrives, the Adirondack Chair Trail will have been many months in the making, beginning last fall, when area businesses—including some in East Sandwich and South Sandwich, in an effort to go beyond the village—were invited to sponsor a chair.
“It was first-come, first-serve, and they went quickly,” Ms. Westerhouse said. Two days after the Thanksgiving deadline for committed sponsorship, the chairs were ordered from Best Adirondack Chair Company in Ontario, Canada.
In early January, when the air temps outside were a frigid 10 degrees, pallets carrying the 22 cedar chairs arrived at the home of an Arts Alliance member whose house has been used as off-site storage until a building can be leased.
The chairs come with a 10-year-guarantee, and they fold for easy storage off-season.
Artists have been given a May 1 deadline to complete their work transforming the chairs into pieces of art.
On May 8, The Fishermen’s View Restaurant at the Sandwich Marina will host a “Big Reveal” party for the artists, the business sponsors, and the public—at which the chairs will be unveiled for the first time.
Between pick-up and the reveal party, the chairs will stay covered in storage, where even the artists are not allowed to see their colleagues’ designs.
After the reveal party, a drawing will take place to randomly match chairs with sponsoring local businesses, and the Adirondack Chair Trail will be off and running.
Summer contests and events are planned to keep Sandwich visitors and residents intrigued about the chairs.
Children can color drawings of an Adirondack chair at the Sandwich Public Library for a chance to win a gift card to get ice cream in town.
Photographers can take photos of family members, friends and pets next to a favorite Adirondack chair and submit it for a chance to win an ice cream gift card. Winners will be chosen weekly for those contests. The contest details and instructions will be posted on the alliance web site.
The Sandwich Arts Alliance booth at Sandwichfest on Water Street on June 29 will host a program for kids to paint mini wooden Adirondack chairs.
The alliance is hoping to have a “Trolly Trail Day” during the summer to take visitors by trolley to see the chairs, with musicians performing at some of the stops.
Maps of the Adirondack Chair Trail will be available at the library, the Sandwich Chamber of Commerce, at all chair locations, and for download at the Arts Alliance website: www.sandwichartsalliance.org.
“It’s the kids who often drive it [the success of the event],” Ms. Westerhouse said. “They want to go to all of the artwork on the trail.”
“This public art program is huge for getting people to visit Sandwich,” Arts Alliance member Neila Neary said. “It’s wonderful and it’s free. Everyone can enjoy it and have good memories. I’ve seen Facebook conversations where people compare what they have seen on the trail.”
“I think it will be beautiful,” Vicky S. Titcomb said of the chair Titcomb’s Bookshop on Route 6A in East Sandwich will sponsor. “And I love that we can actually sit on it. I think what the Arts Alliance is doing for the town is great, and we are glad to be a part of it,” she said.
Leslie G. Harmon, owner of the Sandwich Animal Hospital in East Sandwich, said she had wanted to be involved in the Adirondack Chair Trail and was wondering how to go about it, when a client who is on the board of the Arts Alliance invited her to sponsor a chair.
“My husband was a visual artist, and my mother was an artist and an art teacher,” Dr. Harmon said. “I am happy to support this event and was happy to be asked.”
“The Sandwich Arts Alliance has outdone itself with this year’s artisan’s trail,” Ms. Westerhouse said. “The Adirondack Chair Trail is the perfect partnership of local artists, local businesses and local fun.”
The Fishermen’s View Restaurant will also host the September 20 party, which will feature music, food, and the auction.
“This auction raises a significant amount of money for us,” Ms. Neary said. “That money is used for our programs and classes, and it will also help with the new building,” she said.