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News Maryland Baltimore County Catonsville

Chairs as art up for auction during Catonsville's Frederick Road Fridays concerts

The move to Mews at Mellor isn't the only new aspect to the Frederick Road Fridays concert series this summer.

For the first time, 25 custom-painted Adirondack chairs, all hand-painted by Catonsville artists, will be on display and up for auction to raise money for the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce's Economic Development Committee.

The committee funds revitalization projects on Frederick Road and provides matched-funds grants for similar improvement projects in Catonsville.

This year's summer auction pairs local businesses, who sponsored the chairs for $250 each, with local artists and serves as not only a fundraiser but a promotional campaign for the town.

Kristen Leister, co-owner of Narcissus Salon and the organizer of the chair auction, compared the fundraiser to the "Fish Out of Water" program in Baltimore in 2001, during which more than 150 pieces of local art were displayed throughout the Inner Harbor and auctioned off.

"This is not a new idea," Leister said. "The functionality and the humor, in that chairs are something that are synonymous with Catonsville with our Fourth of July parade, that was the idea that won out.

"We matched the people up and then theme of the chairs this year ... it's things that we love about Catonsville," she said.

"That's something we asked the sponsors and the artists to consider when they were designing the chairs," Leister said. "They would come up with a design that they both agreed on and the artist would paint the chair."

The chairs, which represent businesses ranging from Ridgeway Automotive to Chef Paulino Cafe, went on display at Mews at Mellor at the first Frederick Road Fridays on June 14. They will remain there until the annual Catonsville Arts and Crafts Festival Sept. 6.

Leister said the chairs are bolted to the ground and officers from the Wilkens Police Station of the Baltimore County Police Department will patrol the area to ensure their safety until the close of the auction.

"People spent a lot of time on these chairs," she said. "Businesses are using this as a way to reach out to the community as well as advertise for their business, so we want them guarded."

Not only does the auction cater to a variety of different businesses, it provides opportunities for a range of artists as well, Leister said.

Riley Goodman, a rising senior at Catonsville High School, is the youngest artist to participate in the project.

He said his neighbor, Karen Gatzke, told him about the auction and suggested he participate.

Gatzke is also a real estate agent in Coldwell Banker's Frederick Road office. That office sponsored the chair with which Goodman was paired.

"I just thought that he would be the perfect person to come up with an idea for the Coldwell Banker chair," Gatzke said. "He came up with this theme, 'There's no place like home,' and just did a wonderful job on the chair.

"You would never think that a teenager designed that," she said.

"It was like a working process, between multiple people coming up with ideas that expressed Coldwell Banker but didn't put it too much in your face," the 17-year-old Goodman said. "Tying the whole aspect of Catonsville being a great opportunity for someone looking for a new home.

Goodman designs T-shirts and programs for plays and musicals at the high school. His design is also what was chosen to turn the mural on the back side of the school's tennis courts into a 12 X 50-foot mosaic.

He said the his latest project was a big undertaking , especially since he couldn't start working on his chair until school let out in early June.

Still, he enjoyed the opportunity.

"I had to wait until all of my AP tests were done," he said. "It was a lot of long hours and a lot of hunching over in my basement."

"(But) as much as I would sit down there in the basement at 11 at night complaining about this, I loved doing this," Goodman said. "I'm really glad that I could contribute to something that is bringing the community together."

Lorraine Imwold is a 31-year-old artist who also participated in the chair auction. She designed chairs for Chef Paulino, St. Mark School and Hubbard Funeral Home — and echoed Goodman's sentiments.

She said she especially loved creating the Chef Paulino chair, which features giant "breadsticks" wrapped with "spaghetti" tendrils.

"I love their spaghetti and I love their bread products because they have all different kinds," Imwold said. "I'm going to make this as crazy and outlandish as possible so that they gather enough attention, and that was kind of the point.

"Hopefully, people will bid on these chairs and give back to the community," she said. "It's such an amazing community to be in and there's so many things that the community does as a whole.

"I'm always up for an opportunity to contribute back to the community," she said.

To view all 25 chairs and place bids, go to http://www.catonsville.org/events/chairproject.php.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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