New Bern, NC – On May 19, one can find a live and silent auction, a plate of barbecue, and half a street block of artists displaying a variety of work. It's called the CHAIR-ity event from New Bern's Habitat for Humanity.
During the live and silent auction, 50 chairs will be on sale, painted and finished by local artists and students of New Bern High School, and Craven Community Colleges Art Department. The chairs will be auctioned, judged by local artist Michael Brown, and the winners will be featured in the publicity of the auction, and win an award. Michael Brown creates and sells chairs, built from scratch. He cuts down a tree, or takes the fallen tree of his customer and handcrafts the chair to suit the requested need. Given that the chairs are being provided to the artists, Brown will not be looking at the technique in which the chairs are shaped; he will be looking at the designs painted on them.
"so I'd thought I'd base all my judgment on the imagination put into it rather than the technique, because technique takes a long time to learn. So I figure if I'd base it on their ability to tell their story on the chair because their painting and so instead of using a canvas their using a chair but really every time you paint a picture your trying to tell a story so if they got the imagination and creativity to tell their story I'm not going to be looking so much at the technique as I am at that creativity and imagination and originality, you know."
The first year, the chairs had strong New Bern influences because it was the town's 300th anniversary celebration. Last year there were many coastal designs. Artists are given free rein in their design platform, so there should be a large variety. You won't have to wait till the auction; starting this weekend the chairs will be on display in at least 26 New Bern locations with a poster explaining the fundraiser and the artist's biography.
In addition to auctioning the chairs, the event will feature a variety of artwork from artists in the region.
Princess Street between Queen and Pollock will be shut down to provide space for the booths. Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Mark Beards says the heavy influence of art on New Bern's cultural scene allows them to involve the strong artistic aspect for the fundraiser.
"we have regular painters, we have jewelry makers, we have potters there's gonna be a very broad mix of different art work, one of my personal friends his medium is skateboard design he's going to come from Greenville."
The money from the auction, and a portion received from the local artists own artwork will go towards the development of Habitat for Humanities newest home. Habitat for Humanity is building home number 53, Craven County division's first fully handicapped house. It's being built for a mother with two children, an 18year old girl who's deaf in one ear, and Dwayne, a 13 years old boy with has no legs and only one arm.
"And so this will be our first completely ADA home, with roll up access at all the doors, roll in shower for Dwayne, roll under vanity and roll under kitchen sink, all the light switches and receptacles are set at levels that are compliant for ADA standards. So it's a special project for us to be able to do one for someone with that type of need."
Beards says the new home is set to be complete in about six months. Sometime in the near future they hope to build another handicapped home for a wounded soldier, possibly in the Havelock area.
The CHAIR-ity event will take place on May 19th and will begin at 10 a.m. Over the past two years, Beards says about 300 people attended. This year they're hoping to top that number.
"we're gonna have a couple billboards around town in the next couple weeks and so hopefully we've done a good job of advertising the event and we'll hopefully eclipse that 300 number. I told the committee last week that running out of food would be a good thing, because we usually donate the food that we do not sell locally."
There are not any more chairs available to paint, but if you are an artist and would like to participate in the "Artists Alley' art show, call 252-633-9599. If you would like more information about the CHAIR-ity fundraiser and Artist's Alley' visit publicradioeast.org. This is Habitat for Humanity's biggest fundraiser of the year; on May 5 is another fundraiser, for more information on that go to newbernhabitat.org.
Stephen O'Connell, Public Radio East.