Sunday, July 29, 2012

Artist-Inspired Benches in the Mad River Valley

Benches On Parade is a community-wide, public art project enthusiastically supported by the businesses and artists of the Mad River Valley.  This first-of-its-kind fundraiser for the Valley Arts Foundation has residents and visitors keeping their eyes open for a glimpse of the 18 benches on display around the Mad River Valley.  Benches were hand-crafted in the Valley by Turtle Creek Builders and then transformed by local artists.

"The Valley Arts Foundation's mission is to support the communities of the Mad River Valley by encouraging and promoting the participation in the arts. The most obvious way we do this is through the month-long Vermont Festival of the Arts during August.  As we approach the kickoff of the 15th anniversary of the Festival, the Valley Arts Foundation is excited to bring this new arts-awareness project to the Valley," said executive director, Karen Nevin. 

Artists were excited to get involved. "I volunteered to do a bench because in the old days, it was the locals who made everything happen," said local real estate agent and bench artist, Brooke Cunningham. "It took participation to make the fun things happen around the Valley, and … I think we all enjoyed being part of the creation as well. Times may have changed, but within the art community that participation spirit still lives." Cunningham's bench can be found on the porch outside of 4orty Bridge Boutique on Main Street in Waitsfield.

Bette Ann Libby and Carlyn Hass' bench Meet Me In the Garden is currently sitting on the front porch of the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce.  Their use of the cubist style reveals a woman reclining in a garden.  "I have always appreciated the Valley Arts Foundation's support for me as an artist," said artist Carlyn Hass. "Bette Ann Libby and I felt that most people would do folk art that this valley is well known for. Since much of my painting is impressionistic we decided to introduce something very different as subject manner. As a result we chose something Picasso-esque.  The woman represents all different types of people -- thus the multi-colored split face!"

The benches were unveiled at the Warren Fourth of July Parade and have been placed at public locations around town. 

One additional bench, created by Gary Eckhart and Dotty Kyle, will be raffled off at the Taste of the Valley on Monday, August 6th.  It will be on display, along with several other benches at the Festival Community Picnic at Lareau Farm Inn in Waitsfield on August 5th and again at The Taste. 

The Benches will be moved once during the summer.  All of the benches can be seen at our website:  Bids are being accepted online or by phone at 802-496-6682. Final bids must be made by 9:00 p.m. on Friday, August 31st.

The Vermont Festival of the Arts is a month-long celebration of the Arts in central Vermont.  Over 120 events are planned during 33 days.  To see the complete program of activities, follow the link at  For more information, call 802-496-6682 or

Images: Buckets 20 by Gary C. Eckhart, Meet Me in the Garden by Bette Ann Libby and Carlyn Hass