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Artist hopes to be 'chair' man of Manitou

By: WARREN EPSTEIN
January 24, 2011
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photo - Imagine this times 100 ... Photo by
Imagine this times 100 ... Photo by  

Imagine downtown Manitou Springs devoid of cars and pedestrians. Instead, lining the avenue are hundreds of empty chairs.

Colorado Springs artist Sean O’Meallie, whose toy-and-balloon-influenced sculpture show recently finished its run at Manitou’s Business of Art Center, has pitched this grand installation art concept he calls “The Chair Project” to the Manitou Springs City Council and community members at the art center.

“The reaction so far has been amazingly positive,” he said.

Although a large installation project, “The Chair Project” would be tiny compared to Christo’s “Over the River” project, which would suspend miles of fabric over the Arkansas River. “The Chair Project,” by contrast, would involve minimal inconvenience for locals, O’Meallie said. He envisions it happening early in the morning, before most commuter traffic, and he hopes to borrow the chairs from businesses and homes in Manitou. He also hopes to enlist an army of volunteers.

“There will be lots of people involved in chair wrangling,” he said.

The actual installation would last only three hours. Artists and photographers would capture the event.

What’s the point of a line of chairs snaking down Manitou Avenue?

O’Meallie says that some will equate empty chairs with loss, others with potential. But there’s more to it beyond the chairs.

“What I think is intriguing about this is idea is that it can change the way people think about Manitou,” O’Meallie said.

He’d like to see the town’s image shift from rubber tomahawk tourist place to a thriving artist colony.

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