BELFAST, Maine — Artist and inventor Cy Klausmeyer has been keeping busy over the last few weeks in his Swanville barn studio by creating a new place to sit: the Airchair.
It is an old office chair scavenged from the town dump that he has altered to have twin rudders that are intended to allow the sitter the experience of becoming more interactive with the wind, he said. The Airchair is Klausmeyer’s entry for this year’s competition in Belfast’s annual summer celebration of interactive street art, Eco-Motion.
“It’s been a desire of mine to make an airplane that’s mounted on the ground but can pivot,” he said Thursday of the Airchair. “If you put a little kid in it, he would learn to control it with the wind. This is the first step toward that.”
If the Waterfall Arts and Our Town Belfast, organizers of the third annual Eco-Motion event, have their way, the streets of the city will be dotted this summer with all kinds of creative benches and chairs like the Airchair during their “Please Be Seated” project.
Last year, Belfast was enlivened with interactive bicycle art, providing visitors with the chance to take a turn riding a fly-cycle or the fish bicycle. There was even a double bicycle with a mechanism for scooping up buckets of water and dousing the rider.
“Please Be Seated” is something a bit different, said organizer Elaine Bielenberg, president of the board of Waterfall Arts, but with the same intention of enticing people to walk and explore Belfast.
“We’re hoping we can get some very interesting additions to our streetscape,” she said of Eco-Motion. “I think it makes it unique. I think it’s something that distinguishes Belfast from other towns.”
Toward that end, Eco-Motion is putting out a call for proposals for design submissions from artists, creators, sculptors, welders, carpenters, inventors and people who like a challenge.
People, in other words, like the 64-year-old Klausmeyer.
“I don’t think I’ll ever retire. I like to do stuff,” he said. “I’ll keep trying to make things as long as I can.”
The designs can be for single chairs, clusters of chairs or bench ideas, Bielenberg said, adding that some points should be kept in mind.
“Whether you create one from scratch or you decorate, rehab, add to or embellish an already made chair or bench, the paramount element to keep in mind is safety,” states a press release from the groups.
The chairs and benches, which will be on display from June through September, should be weather-worthy and be able to hold up to wind and rain.
Organizers said they are searching for “fun, fanciful, whimsical, creative, thought-provoking or theme-based seats,” and the artists will be compensated for their efforts. They will be paid $250 for a single seat and $500 for a multiseat or bench arrangement.
All installations will be auctioned off in September for the benefit of next year’s project.
The artworks will fall into two categories: original and business-sponsored.
Although the motion may not seem as apparent as it did during the interactive 2010 Eco-Motion bicycle display, Bielenberg said that it is very much there.
“You can walk around — that’s the motion — but I’m calling it the economy of motion,” she said. “Once you get there, you can take a rest, but you still have to explore the town to find the inventions and creations.”
Bielenberg said she anticipates there will be less maintenance involved with the benches and chairs than there was with some of the more elaborate bike designs.
Those interested in applying to be considered should e-mail their intention to participate to firstname.lastname@example.org, including name, address, phone number, email address and category of participation.
The second step in the process is to submit design information with description and sketches in two duplicate hard copy documents, which should be mailed to Waterfall Arts, 256 High St., Belfast 04915. The deadline for that is 5 p.m. Friday, April 22.