Seeking Missing Left Hand Chair
September 14, 2017
Yes, it’s a super cool thing to have, but Karen McMeans would have been happy to make you your own masterpiece. “The realization that it’s gone has been really hard” artist McMeans said about the missing one-of-a-kind Left Hand chair she painted. It took her two and a half months to complete, working on her hands and knees at times, with an injured back.
Whether thieves stole the award-winning work of art, or the folks taking the chair thought it was abandoned, they used Herculean strength to move the 300-pound solid concrete piece. The rock and roll themed chair was sitting temporarily behind the relatively new home of Rockin’ Robin’s Retro Vintage and Resale store on Main Street in downtown Longmont. It’s a keepsake of the store’s and, for many, it is an invaluable work of art.
Other Left Hand chairs are sprinkled throughout the town of Niwot, a project of the Niwot Cultural Arts Association intended to honor Chief Niwot, whose name translates to Left Hand in Arapaho. Each chair is painted by a different local artist and is representative of the business that displays it.
In 2015, when McMean’s chair was created, Rockin’ Robin’s was owned by Robin Abb. Abb, who now lives in Washington state, commissioned McMeans to paint her Left Hand chair with references to her favorite bands - the Beatles, Led Zeppelin AC/DC, Aerosmith, The Who, Kansas and The Rolling Stones.
McMean’s chair was voted the best chair in town and she was awarded first prize for its execution and ingenuity. Creating art for public and private enjoyment is McMean’s passion. She studied interior design and is known by her business name, The Room Reader (www.facebook.com/theroomreader/). She also participated in Shock Art, a City of Longmont project commissioning artists to paint electrical boxes. McMeans’ box is located on Francis Street.
But this piece wasn’t simply a business project. The rockin’ chair holds a high place in her heart. It’s symbolic of her affection for Abb as a dear friend, of the unique hamlet of Niwot, and of the actual painting process that allowed her to connect with so many passersby as she worked on the conversation piece outside the original store.
“Now that Robin doesn’t live here and the store has moved, this is a particularly hard thing to deal with” McMeans said. “The chair itself was meant to be seen, it is art in public, and to take it away makes me really sad. I painted it for people who love the Beatles and music and now I feel like it’s being hoarded.” She explained, “It’s like stealing an icon.”
Vandalism and harmful mischievous acts are not new to the area. Recently, two incidents of damage to the Niwot Children’s Park and spray painted graffiti on the Niwot underpass have occurred.
It’s highly unlikely the ones who carted away Rockin’ Robin’s chair thought it was simply there for the taking… in the middle of the night. “I just hope it’s found and returned in one good piece,” McMeans said. Regardless of whether it was an innocent error or a malicious act, there will be no charges filed when the chair is returned, according to McMeans.
If you spot the chair or have any information regarding the situation, you are urged to contact the Longmont Police Department at 303-651-8555.