As we walk, the artist explains that his stumps are, in part, an homage to the local spirit of hands-on craftsmanship. Thanks to places like the Steel Yard, AS220, and the community woodshop Keeseh Studio, Providence is a city where "you can basically learn how to build or make whatever you'd like without being affiliated with a university," he says.
It's tough to say exactly how many stump chairs there are at a given moment, but his closest estimate is nine or 10. One chair on Power Street was sawed off shortly after being installed. Another on Benevolent Street also met a violent end. But the number will soar tonight, StumpChair says.
He's leaving town for a few months and planning an extravaganza before he alights. He won't give me the particulars of this campaign — only the vaguely mischievous promise, "I'm feelin' stumpy." And sure enough, over the next few days, transformed stumps appear on Butler Avenue, Prospect Street, and Franklin Street. The StumpChair Facebook page (more than 140 "likes" and counting) lights up with messages from fans. "Burlington Street! What a nice surprise to look out my window this morning and see the stump chair in front of my house!" "Just spotted the red one with a spindle replaced with a stick on Cranston Street — definitely my favorite so far!"
Back on Blackstone Boulevard on Friday morning, all of this is just a plan. And as StumpChair shares it, a man in sneakers and shorts veers off of the running path toward the stump chair. Breathing heavily, he takes a phone from his pocket, aims it at the chair, and clicks a photo. Then he runs off, feet crunching on the gravel path.
: This Just In
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