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Polson students to auction chairs inspired by art world's masters
Brenna McGinnis, a kindergarten student at Cherry Valley School in Polson, shows off the Andy Warhol chair she helped decorate. Elementary classes at the school created chairs in the style of famous artists, which are being auctioned off.
Photo by JOHN STROMNES/Missoulian

POLSON - Some may think the pop art movement made famous

by the late Andy Warhol - the repetitive representation of soup cans, Marilyn Monroe visages, Coke bottles and such - could well have been invented by a group of talented, energetic kindergartners.

The art show on Thursday at Cherry Valley School in Polson by some 300 elementary students and their docents - volunteer art instructors from the community - lends some credence to the idea.

Art docent coordinator Edna Lemm said the repetitive Warhol style is perfect for kindergartners, given their short attention span.

"I knew that these little ones needed something easy and quick," she said.

So instead of painting the soup cans on a chair in the "Cherry Valley Takes a Seat" art show, in which each class helped paint a chair in the style of a famous artist, the kindergartners did even better. They took real soup can labels and pasted them directly onto the chair using the decoupage technique.

Lemm and others in the docent program later preserved this art with acrylic sealer.

Voila, pop art - not on canvas, but on a sturdy, fully functional chair, without the bother of painting the labels, one by one. And no need to look for a suitable place on a wall. Plunk this art down by the fireplace, sit down on the motifs and enjoy.

The current bid for the Andy Warhol-style kindergarten chair is $40.

Bids on other chairs decorated by students and their docents are going considerably higher.

As of Monday night, the top online bid for a Gauguin-style chair was $200. That piece and the 17 other chairs can be viewed at at the Cherry Valley auction Web site,

"The bidding is going way beyond my expectations," Lemm said.

Lemm, 42, has been art docent coordinator at Cherry Valley for two years now. She was trained at the University of Puget Sound and the Seattle Art Institute, and is the mother of two children. She brought the art docent idea to Polson when she and her husband Mike, a cabinetmaker, moved from Washington two years ago.

To get the program started, she came into the school and volunteered to organize it. She has been working as docent coordinator ever since.

Last year, the students decorated shoes. The shoes were not auctioned, and many remain on display at the school. This year, Lemm chose chairs. Like the shoes, the "Chairy-Valley" chairs were displayed in local businesses in Polson for several weeks.

The chairs will be part of the annual Night of the Arts festival Thursday at the school, which begins at 6 p.m. The festival also includes numerous other art-related school exhibits, the wares of community craftspeople, dancing, music by students and treats.

Final bidding on the chairs, which range from Adirondack to dining to rocking chairs - will continue throughout the evening. The winners will be announced about 8 p.m., Lemm said.

All chairs are fully functional, repaired or mended as necessary by Lemm's husband, who is also one of the 18 docents in the program, and who painted the Gauguin replica of "Woman with Mango," ably assisted by the students in the elementary class he assisted.

"This is a fund-raiser, but it's also a great way to teach about the arts," she said.

Reporter John Stromnes can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or at

If you're interested

To bid on the chairs in the "Cherry Valley Takes a Seat" art show, visit Bidding on the chairs will continue through the Night of the Arts festival at 6 p.m. Thursday, and the winners will be announced about 8 p.m.

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