BELFAST — Imagine walking into an art gallery and being encouraged to take a seat on any of the paintings.

While that may sound counterintuitive, it’s going on in Belfast every day.

Sit Down Belfast is a project spearheaded by Our Town Belfast, an organization committed to growing and sustaining Belfast’s historic downtown and its unique cultural heritage.

Fifteen Adirondack chairs, each one individually designed by local artists, adorn Belfast’s Main Street.

“We have them from Post Office Square all the way down Main Street to the park,” said Our Town Belfast Executive Director Amanda Cunningham.

The chairs are available for use by anyone visiting the city and will remain in place throughout the summer and early fall before being stored during cold weather months.

The chairs are designed to be stationary and so they are anchored to the sidewalk. The artistic seating has been in place since late June, a quick turnaround time for an idea raised at an Our Town Belfast meeting in the spring.

“(The chairs) are a community effort,” Cunningham said of the chairs. “Once we decided to move forward, everything came together.”

Materials for the chairs were purchased with funding from First National Bank and First National Wealth Management, with additional funding gained from assigning one sponsor per chair.

“Viking Lumber gave us a great deal on the materials,” Cunningham said. “We had to send the chairs to the artists disassembled to allow them to design options. Front Street Shipyard used their water jet machine to cut out the individual pieces. The artists assembled the chairs after they designed them.”

With the pieces sent off to the artists, the project turned to location.

“(Belfast Councilor and Our Town Belfast Chair) Mary Mortier worked with our Public Works director to select the locations for each chair. Larry Jones helped us anchor the chairs to the sidewalk,” Cunningham said.

Florida resident Alan Schroepfer, a visitor to Belfast, was appreciative of the location and design of the chairs.

Belfast visitor Alan Schroepfer relaxes in one of the artists’ chairs provided by Our Town Belfast. Photo by Jim Leonard

“I like that they have them spread out up the hill,” Schroepfer said. “They are really comfortable, and they look great. I like that every one of them is different.”

Participating artists in Sit Down Belfast are: Rachel Adler and Autumn Smith, Elaine and John Bielenberg, Jack Cassida, Mj Viano Crowe, Annadeene Fowler, Ash Inglenook, Samantha Maheu, Ashley Atwood Megquier, Pegi Miller, Debbie Mitchell, Heidi Reader, Meghan Reilly, Kristyne Sanderson, Troy Howard Arts School classes and Waterfall Arts.

“I didn’t want to sit in them at first,” Schroepfer said. “Then I saw other people using them, talking about them, and I got the connection.

Please, take a seat.

Artwork by Mj Viano Crowe