Chair-ity auction features 10 artistically painted chairs

The Milford Education Foundation recently unveiled 10 Adirondack-style chairs painted by local individuals and groups for a unique furniture/art fund-raiser.

The Chair-ity Auction will benefit the Milford Education Foundation and the Milford Fine Arts Council.

The project is a combination of volunteer efforts by several groups, such as Mark Robinson and his tech-ed students at Jonathan Law High School, who built the chairs, and Metro Star Properties, which donated the lumber.

Colony Paint donated the primer and paint, and Mollyland Development donated money for gift certificates and other expenses.

Artists from the Milford Fine Arts Center teamed up with the different student groups and individuals who took on the painting tasks. The chairs will be auctioned Aug. 22 at Costa Azzurra, starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25, and can be purchased from any Milford Education Foundation member and at the Milford Bank.

James Maroney, founder of the Milford Education Foundation, said the Chair-ity Auction will likely take place every other year, and is meant to complement the Open Doors of Milford art project, which sees artists painting doors and placing them at various spots around the city as an art-in-the-community endeavor.

The chairs are colorful and detailed, much like the doors featured in the Open Doors of Milford project.

Two chairs were painted by students at West Shore Middle School. The first is a largely floral design that Hannah Swenning, 13, said she designed based on inspiration from her grandmother’s garden.

“My grandmother can bring a twig back to life,” Hannah said as she stood in front of the colorful chair, bursting with garden life.

Some of the students who worked on the chair are part of the school’s WAVE (West Shore Achieves Visionary Education) program, and others are art club members, said Art Teacher Lynn Coleman.

Olivia Ott, 13, was one of the 15 to 20 West Shore students who lent her artistic hand. She said she created some of the flowers and other details on the arm of the chair.

Jessica Maldonado, 14, designed the other chair that came from West Shore, and Judy Ruskin, a volunteer with the Milford Fine Arts Council, worked with the West Shore students.

McKenna Staurovsky, 18, painted a chair that residents will be able to see on view at Milford City Hall. She was inspired by the city’s 375th anniversary and painted her chair with the anniversary in mind.

McKenna recently graduated from Jonathan Law High School and will enter Sacred Heart University in the fall to study art. Her finished piece features an eagle, which is Jonathan Law High School’s mascot, plus confetti and balloons to signify the city’s birthday.

“I think it was a great project,” McKenna said. “I was honored to be selected because there are only 10 chairs, and mine is one of them.”

Milford Education Foundation members and Fine Arts Council members unveiled the chairs last Wednesday at the Milford Fine Arts Center. Augie Harrigan, one of the founding members of the foundation, noted the number of programs the foundation has funded since forming about a year ago.

The Education Foundation hosted a Minds in Motion program that saw 170 students sign up for educational workshops, and they hosted a citywide Invention Convention, which was tied to the state’s Invention Convention.

After Wednesday’s opening, the 10 chairs were delivered to their “host spots,” where they can be viewed until Aug. 21.

Residents will get a chance to see all the chairs in the Chair-ity Auction in one place Aug. 21, the night before the auction, at an evening art stroll at Walnut Beach. The chairs will be part of the art, and will be surrounded by music and other activities that are part of the monthly art stroll. The event starts at 6:30.

For now, the chairs can be seen at their host sites, which are as follows: Bridge House, City Hall, Duck Duck Goose, Cafe Atlantique, Scoot and Paddle, Colony Paint, the Villa Gourmet, Wild Expressions, and the Walnut Beach Creamery.

The organizations that painted the chairs include Jonathan Law High School, East Shore and West Shore middle schools, the Foran Key Club, The Academy, St. Gabriel’s School, the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA.

For information about the auction, including a “selfie contest” in which people take photos of themselves with the chairs, go to