August is art in the Mad River Valley, but the benches on parade are already on duty in The Valley.

The Vermont Festival of the Arts Benches on Parade is a community-wide, public art project supported by businesses and artists in The Valley. This first-of-its-kind fundraiser for the Valley Arts Foundation has residents and visitors keeping their eyes open for a glimpse of the 16 (soon to be 18) benches on display around the Mad River Valley. Benches were handcrafted here in The Valley by Turtle Creek Builders and then transformed by local artists.

“The Valley Arts Foundation’s mission is to support the communities of the Mad River Valley by encouraging and promoting the participation in the arts. The most obvious way we do this is through the monthlong Vermont Festival of the Arts during August. As we approach the kickoff of the 15th anniversary of the Festival, the Valley Arts Foundation is excited to bring this new arts-awareness project to The Valley,” said director Karen Nevin.

Artists were excited to get involved.

“I volunteered to do a bench because in the old days, the 1970s, it was the locals who made everything happen,” said local real estate agent and bench artist Brooke Cunningham. “It took participation to make the fun things happen around The Valley, and… I think we all enjoyed being part of the creation of it as well. Things are different now, but, particularly within the art community, that participation spirit still lives.”

Click for full image gallery of 2012 Art Benches



Cunningham’s bench can be found on the porch outside of 4orty Bridge Boutique on Main Street in Waitsfield.

Bette Ann Libby and Carlyn Hass’ bench, “Meet Me in the Garden,” is currently sitting on the front porch of the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce. Their use of the cubist style of Picasso reveals a woman reclining in a garden.

“I have always appreciated the Valley Arts Foundation’s support for me as an artist,” said artist Carlyn Hass. “Bette Ann Libby and I felt that most people would do folk art that this valley is well known for. Since much of my painting is impressionistic, we decided to introduce something very different as subject manner. As a result we chose something Picasso-esque. The woman represents all different types of people, thus the multi-colored split face!”

The benches can be found around town at these locations:

Chamber of Commerce, “Meet Me in the Garden” by Bette Ann Libby and Carlyn Hass;

Festival Gallery, “Buckets #20” by Gary Eckhart;

Waitsfield Inn, “Furry Friends” by Gaelic McTigue;

The Collection, “Verde Green Triptych” by Jane Allen Cunningham;

The Valley Reporter, “Labor Day Creativity = Mad River Craft Fair” by Mary Hill;

Three Mountain Café, “Five Hens and One Worm” by Dotty Kyle;

Mad River Quilts, “The Harvest” by Ellen Crafton;

All Things Bright and Beautiful, “Family Fun” by Ann Lynch;

Bridge Street Emporium, “Irene Resilience” by Asah Rowles, Dillon and Julia Rowles, Peter Edlund, Jen Soucy and Jen Bennett;

Artisans’ Gallery, “Picture This” by Roarke Sharlow;

4orty Bridge Boutique, “Welcome to The Valley” by Brooke Cunningham;

Warren Store, “Chicken Dance” by Beth Kendrick;

Pitcher Inn, “White Poppies” by Karin Ware;

West Hill House B&B, “Pocket Full of Posies” by Kris Chamberlain;

East Warren Community Market, “B.L.O.P.” by Jeannie Sargent and Alison Lavit.


One additional bench, created by Gary Eckhart and Dotty Kyle, will be raffled off at the Taste of the Valley on Monday, August 6. It will be on display, along with several other benches at the Festival Community Picnic at Lareau Farm on August 5 and again at the Taste. Buy a raffle ticket for a chance to win.


The benches will be moved once during the summer. Want a map for a treasure hunt? Come by the Festival Gallery to pick one up. Bid on the benches at Final bids must be made by 9 p.m. on Friday, August 31.