The streets have been cleared. The chairs are gone. And on Wednesday, the final $5,000 funding goal was met for The Manitou Chair Project, the biggest art project the region has ever seen.
In all, $30,000 has been pledged to the project.
“I think we’ll be able to pay our bills,” said Sean O’Meallie, an award-winning artist and progenitor of the work.
A year-long process of planning culminated on Oct. 9, when 671 chairs were lined up on Manitou Avenue. No person or vehicle was allowed on the streets when it was documented early that morning by photographers and videographers. Scores of images and at least two films were generated by the event.
O’Meallie and the Business of Art Center, which backed the event, hope that the media would be the foundation of a new image for Manitou Springs; an image as town so dedicated to art that it allowed itself to be a platform for it. And the city has said that’s exactly what it’s going to do in marketing targeted locally and in the state.
The Colorado Springs artist said plans are in the works for biennual large scale art project administered by the BAC. Proposals could come locally or from artists nationwide.
"The model I have in mind is not that we do a street festival on a weekend," he said, "but that maybe Manitou could be a platform for an artwork. For example, it could involve placing lanterns created by school children, all carrying stories on them. They would be installed on buildings and in the landscape. There would be no particular day to go see it. It would stimulate visitation across the year, instead of just high season."
An exhibit at the BAC in February and the release of Chair Project calendars are designed to recognize the work of everyone involved, including about 700 volunteers, and to further the reach of this new brand. Those endeavors and others are as yet unfunded.
“I’m so tired of asking for money,” said O’Meallie, who has yet to see his own expenses reimbursed. “But we can do more with this.
“We sort of respond to things with blinking lights and slogans,” he goes on. “And if I can come up with a way to blink the lights on the slogan, I will.”
Note: Mobley-Martinez contributed to the Manitou Chair Project.