Project "Snow Chair"
Why These Objects?

Owners select their “snow chair” for any number of reasons. A “snow chair” could have been chosen because it was found in the alley or could be conveniently stored in the trunk of a car. Inversely, it could be very bulky and difficult for spot-thieves to move. Generally, they are outcast objects that no longer serve their intended function and have all but lost their value. These objects were not originally intended to serve as wintertime parking reservations. They have been stored away in garages, basements and backyards for future use. For good reason the “snow chaired” street resembles a garage sale. The object in use no longer had a purpose in the home, but the owner could not throw it away because of some perceived value. When a blizzard comes, these objects have been pulled out of storage to serve new functions as private parking claims on public streets.

In many instances an object’s form and intended function reveal why an owner decided to use it as a parking reservation. For instance, a lawn chair is probably chosen because it is seasonably unemployed in the garage or the backyard. The owner probably has no intention of sitting in the backyard to enjoy a glass of lemonade in the middle of winter, thus the lawn chair is easily put into wintertime service. However, not all “Snow Chairs” can be read transparently. In many instances, only the owner can reveal why they selected an object.

The Note

Wandering around the Rogers Park and Edgewater Neighborhoods for four days in early February, I taped this tag on 150 “Snow Chairs” to get more information from the owners about their objects. Here are some of the responses that I received on the blog.

Ikea Ottoman

"It honestly was the easiest item to grab in storage. We still use the chair but the footstool has been collecting dust for some time." –Ikea in Edgewater


"That is not a tripod, I used it to support a squash vine in my garden, but actually it is meant to be used to hold a wreath at a funeral! All objects were found on my daily dog walks. Recycled objects." -Jhougard

Tidy Cats Dibs

"Hi! I’m the Tidy Cat dibs! Only have two cats but I have repurposed the litter jugs as water jugs in the summer months. I drill holes in the screw tops and they make purrrrfect water jugs for my city container garden." – Malissa1959

60s Vinyl Chair

"Hey that’s my 60s vinyl and metal chair! It’s been sitting on my back porch for about 8 years. Bought for a song at a library sale by my old roommate…. I grabbed the chair (it’s back support is gone) and put it in the spot.” –dc74

Executive Chair with Handcuffs

"Mine is the chair with the handcuffs hanging off of it. The chair was a Christmas gift for my wife three or four years ago. It got broken and now the seat wobbles uncomfortably so it was elected to hold the spot I dug out this morning…. My daughter just told me the handcuff got on the chair when my son handcuffed her to it. She was stuck until she found something to pop the lock…. Why didn’t it get chucked as soon as it broke? It was hard to throw out because it was a Christmas present for my wife. I don’t think I ever really thought I could fix it but I still had a hard time throwing it out.” –JB

White Stool and Chair

"The white stool and chair both serve purposes inside our apartment. The chair is used at the kitchen counter for coat storage or a seat. The white stool has been around since before I was born, over 30 years ago, and until now it has not been used for anything in particular due to its height… or lack thereof…. They will be reintegrated at the end of the season. Especially the white stool as it has a lot of memories. It was an essential component of my forts when I was a child. The flat surface on top was very useful in that you could place a lot of books or a heavy object on top and it would hold the sheet solidly in place. Over the years it has been used for sitting, lamp-holding. book piling, cat-lounging, clothes-holding, and a myriad of other things, but no ‘definitive’ use." – Calone6

All “snow chairs” have a previous life with some sort of meaning to their owners. Maybe they are objects that have broken or fallen out of style and have been put into storage. For whatever reasons, the owner cannot part with the item. Possibly they are objects that are identified by the owners as adaptive and have been creatively recycled. Sometimes the purpose of the object is to fulfill a multitude of tasks and being a “snow chair” is just one among a long line of functions.

Next Page: These Chairs can Talk

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