Art

Have a Seat

An anonymous outburst of artistic whimsy

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Last summer, a few friends were having themselves a little stroll down Power Street when they stumbled upon a broken chair, discarded on the sidewalk. A few footsteps further, they happened upon a tree stump. “It started as just a random idea. We figured someone got drunk and broke the chair,” says the anonymous mastermind behind the array of stump chairs now scattered throughout the East Side. “I hear people have started calling me Johny Chair Seed,” he says with a devilish smile. “I kind of like it.”

With the help of two friends (two of the “select few” who know his true identity), Johny has constructed a total of ten stump chairs including those on Hope, Rochambeau, Blackstone, Elmgrove and Larch, among others. He typically heads out on his bike to collect discarded chairs on Sunday nights, as Monday morning trash days mean the neighborhood sidewalks are ripe for the picking.

Predictably, construction takes place under the shield of darkness… well, usually. “Once I stopped to fix a broken chair during the day and some guy came out of his house and asked if I was the one making them,” Johny says. “I told him no, that I noticed it was broken and just stopped to fix it.” Whether building or fixing, though, the process of installation is the same: drill holes into the stump, use wood glue to affix the chair back, secure with screws. “They’re as sturdy as any chair,” he states.

Initially he was a little worried about the possibility of getting in trouble but over time that fear has ceased. “I see that so many more people appreciate it than dislike it,” he says. “There really hasn’t been much negative feedback at all.” In fact, only two chairs have been disassembled thus far. The potentially punishable nature of his action wasn’t the reason he chose to remain anonymous, however. “I would rather be unknown so that people won’t feel funny about copying me. In fact, I’d like for there to be copycats.”

Johny is about to leave town for an extended vacation, and he hopes that the public will continue the stump chair movement. “I want to inspire the masses,” he says. Sounds like there’s gonna be a rush on wood glue around here. Adler’s, you’d better get ready. To donate a broken chair, email stumpchair@gmail.com.