This chair, designed by artist Bonnie Katz, is one of many to be offered at the ECDC CHAIRity Auction on Feb. 27.

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Twelve local artists have taken up an Evanston Community Development Corporation challenge to use castoff chairs and found objects to create something “green,” in keeping with the theme of ECDC’s third annual Outstanding Citizen Awards dinner, “Creating Change through Activism.”

The chairs, which will be auctioned off at the event’s “CHAIRity Auction” on Feb. 27 at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, align with the ECDC goal of using green design principles and technologies to make homes and business development more affordable, said ECDC board member Micere Keels.

This year ECDC honors Evanstonian Bennett J. Johnson, a long-time civil rights activist, as its Outstanding Citizen of the year. As president of the Evanston/North Shore NAACP, Mr. Johnson is the longest-serving person in the organization’s history. He is also in his tenth year as publisher of the Evanston Sentinel and vice president of Third World Press.

“The Seat of Peace,” a chair by Evanston artist, storyteller and poet Esther Williams-Hays, used peace slogans and pictures of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi and others from diverse cultures to carry her message.

Highland Park artist Bonnie Katz depicted peace another way, embellishing her “spa blue” chair with cutouts of woodland animals and falling oak leaves to convey the peaceful feeling of sitting in a garden.

Nature is also the subject of “Heavenston Gardening.” Kathy Miller, an Evanston artist and avid gardener, covered her chair in moss, hung it with vines, and added a dragonfly and ladybugs, a potted orchid, seed packets, gardening gloves, a wide-brimmed hat and a weeder.

Evanston artist Stuart Novy carried the “CHAIRity” pun a bit farther in “CHAIRily Chaplin” and “Sweet CHAIRiot.” In the first sits an enlarged photo of “the little tramp,” feet dangling, bamboo cane in hand. The second chair, fitted with wheels, has an orange plywood shell, covered with candy wrappers and topped by a papier mache horse’s head.

Evanston’s Barbara Wakefield designed an artist’s book with ten self-portraits draped over a chair with arms. “It has to do with power, struggle and gender identity,” she says. “A chair with arms typically is used at the head of the table by a man. By trying to maintain balance in my poses, I’m struggling to not lose my identity.”

The artists’ chairs will be on exhibit during February at the First Bank and Trust, both 820 Church St. and 2925 Central St. Precious Wright is accepting pre-bids at 847-756-0159. Buy-it-now prices are available through the ECDC Fan Page on Facebook.

Tickets to the ECDC 2010 Outstanding Citizen Awards dinner are available from Precious Wright at 847-756-0159. Individual tickets are $125; table of eight, $1,000.

ECDC is a community-based non-profit dedicated to the revitalization of Evanston’s West Side.