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Posted on Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

Mayor floats idea of bronze Adirondack chair at Farmers Market in honor of Coleman Jewett

By Ryan J. Stanton


Jim Stein, left and Coleman Jewett, right, sitting in chairs Jewett hand-built and sold at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market in October 2005.

Courtesy of Jessica Black

Coleman Jewett was a fixture at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market for 45 years, known for his hand-crafted pine furniture and most notably his Adirondack chairs.

So what better way to pay tribute to the recently deceased craftsman than a bronze Adirondack chair dedicated in his honor at the Farmers Market?

Mayor John Hieftje floated the idea at Monday night's Ann Arbor City Council meeting, noting the idea came from several individuals in the community.

"Several individuals mentioned something to me and I wanted to pass it on," Hieftje said, adding he looks forward to kicking the idea around with the city's Public Art Commission.

"It would just have a little plaque that said, 'This is Coleman's chair,'" Hieftje said of what some have in mind. "I think that it would be something that would be appreciated by every market-goer because he was indeed a fixture and often called the 'Mayor of the Market.'"

Jewett was a teacher and later assistant principal at then Tappan Junior High School from the 1960s to early 1990s. He died recently at the age of 78.


An Adirondack chair made by Coleman Jewett became a memorial to the Ann Arbor educator and craftsman on the Saturday following his death in January.

Lisa Carolin | For

"Quite a great individual in our community has passed," said Hieftje, getting a warm response from council members on the idea of a bronze Adirondack chair.

John Kotarski, a member of the city's Public Art Commission, was in attendance and said he likes the idea a lot.

"I think it's a great idea," he said. "It would be something that the art commission would have to take a look at in terms of finding funding. There might be some ways in which we could possibly get vendors at the market to participate outside of the Percent for Art."

The city normally funds public art projects through its Percent For Art Program, which sets aside 1 percent of capital project expenditures for artworks around town.

The City Council took action in December to partially suspended the program until April 1 while a task force looks into options for taking public art in Ann Arbor in a new direction.

"The Percent for Art money right now is kind of in limbo," Kotarski said, adding there will have to be discussions about how to fund the project the mayor is talking about. "But personally I think it's a great idea. It's something that I'd like to see happen. It's just how?"

Kotarski said it's possible it could be largely or entirely funded through private donations, and he suggested getting vendors at the market to contribute.

"I think there's a way of doing that," he said. "And I for one would like to expand the way we fund art in Ann Arbor, and this could be an example of it. It sounds like there are a lot of people who would want to see that happen, and maybe it could be the vendors there themselves."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 9:47 p.m.

I think Ann Arbor can only support this if the bronze chair in question costs thousands and thousands of dollars and is produced by a German artist with no city connections...and, that it be funded by a millage.

margaret Splittt

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

Wonderful idea, where do I send my check?


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 8:24 p.m.

To Hieftje's reelection campaign

Dog Guy

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 3:52 a.m.

A bronze Adirondack chair is not likely to be taken as an Obama tribute. Locate it in the shade to avoid branding summer users.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 12:21 a.m.

As long as the money to pay for it doesn't come out of tax dollars. Nice idea for a PRIVATELY funded memorial. Oh, and no funds for this are to be skimmed from road maintenance and other budgets......


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:20 p.m.

How about the chair and a statue with him sitting in it. Now that would be a fitting image indeed.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 9:29 p.m.

I'd love to contribute to the memorial. Is there a fund set up?


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

Where is the honor for his father, George Jewitt, the first black football player at the University of Michigan? He was studying medicine at UM until he was told he couldn't study medicine and play football at the same time so he went to Northwestern and studied medicine and played football for them. I don't read in the article what Coleman Jewitt did, which should be honored by a public art project. I am not saying he didn't do something honorable but I can't tell what it was from the article.

quintessential daughter

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 11:23 p.m.

When George H. Jewett (correct spelling) was playing football, African Americans were rarely honored with bronze statutes. If that were the case the University of Michigan should have done it a long time ago. If you can't tell what contributions Coleman Jewett made to his community, you need to do more research.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 11:06 p.m.

Until you can spell his name correctly, perhaps you should let more knowledgeable people talk?

buvda fray

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

Perhaps establish a chair sharing program?


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.

In the future, to remember Hiefje, we will need to put up a bronze bike in the middle of a bike lane.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:59 p.m.

Set up a fund, I'll contribute! I'd love to see the bronze Adirondack chairs there.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

Mr. Mayor, for once a wonderful idea!!!! my suggestion is that a special fund be set up, i.e., "pass the hat", my guess is the donations will come pouring in. then make ABSOLUTELY DARN CERTAIN that the $$$ gets used for this purpose ONLY.

John Hritz

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

Sounds like a great use for a Kickstarter (or similar) campaign. I'd just want to know the family is ok with the memorial.

quintessential daughter

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 11:14 p.m.

The family is definitely "ok" with the memorial. Finally, dollars spent on a bronze sculpture that actually has some meaning!!!


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

this is a wonderful idea, I can't believe it came for the Mayor.

Real Life

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 3:17 p.m.

Sounds great! Who's going to pay for it?

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

I think the point of the poll and the discussion on here is to determine who we, as taxpayers, think should pay for it.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

I'd kick in $100.

Ricardo Queso

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

Instead of funding one bronze chair how about providing seed money to establish a workshop that would allow the unemployed to build and sell similar chairs. Giving a hand-up to those in need would be a greater legacy for Mr. Jewett.

quintessential daughter

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 11:11 p.m.

Coleman was an administrator and counselor for his longest career with the Ann Arbor Community. He already has a great legacy. If he didn't, his memory would not be recognized as it is.

Linda Peck

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

I respect the sentiment of Mayor Hieftje, but it is quite a lot of money for a bronze statue of a chair. A memorial it would be, instead of art. I also have furniture by Mr Jewett and appreciate his live and his contributions to the community. I don't agree with making the chair, though.

quintessential daughter

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 11:05 p.m.

I hope your weren't one of the many people who sat in Coleman's chairs for hours on end like many people did? If so, what will you do now?

Arno B

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

Why aren't the "several individuals in the community" raising funds out of their own pockets? It would be interesting to find out how much these art advocates contribute to art activities themselves. There have been many of these "Artsy Folks" testifying at City Council meetings about how wonderful these art projects are but no one asks them this question. Regarding the "poll": The "Yes/No" is incomplete. An additional question should be added: "At whose expense?" Since new statuary seems to be coming I'd like to see a statue of Shakey Jake somewhere!

A2 rocks

Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 12:58 a.m.

There is a tribute to Jake. Great sculpture in the front of Peaceable Kingdom on Main St.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Arno, WONDERFUL IDEA! Shakey Jake was one of my dearest friends, I will miss him for the rest of my days. I could see a statue of him on the southeast corner of Main and William, which was where one usually saw a lot of him. another possible location could be State & William. sign me, one of many who misses Shakey Jake, Madeleine a.k.a. Mady

Katherine Griswold

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

Neal Elyakin says it best. "My vote is for two chairs; a big one, for all the big people who were touched by Coleman's smile, cheerful greeting, and warmth; and one little one, for all the children who loved those little chairs. Make them accessible to all, so all may enjoy."

Dan Ezekiel

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 10:57 a.m.

My amen is to Kathy's comment, by the way, not the reply.

Dan Ezekiel

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 3:03 a.m.



Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 12:24 a.m.

As long as they are privately funded, good ideas!


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

I love the the idea of a bronze chair....why not make it oversize? That way adults and children could share. The apron in front of his stall would be a perfect spot.

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

Hey! there's more bronze in that ugly "imported" thing on North Main.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

There ought to be two, because I never saw him sitting alone for long. Man, I miss him.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

Incidentally, I love Neal Elyakin's idea of having one be a kid's chair, but I'm concerned a sculpture that small would get stolen.

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

No need to hire an artist - Jewett left the design for you.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

I'm generally opposed to tax payer funded art on two counts. One , Government at every level is financially strapped and the solution isn't singularly to raise taxes. Secondly "art" is subjective. Having said that, if there is any piece I could get behind with some portion of funding it would be this.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 12:25 a.m.

It should be privately funded, not funded with tax dollars.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

Finally art that makes sense...and if you need bronze I think theres an obnoxious piece of junk on 5th ave ( " The spirit of stupid " ) that could be melted down to cast it .....


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

May I suggest the Alchemist Foundry in Kalamazoo? They do amazing work!

Neal Elyakin

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

My vote is for two chairs; a big one, for all the big people who were touched by Coleman's smile, cheerful greeting, and warmth; and one little one, for all the children who loved those little chairs. Make them accessible to all, so all may enjoy. This is exactly what the city fund for art was created to do. Public art for the public, accessible to the community.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

Public funds should not be used.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 12:26 a.m.

Totally agree. Let the "artsy" people on the City Council who come up with these ideas fund the project.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:27 a.m.

Now, this is a piece of art I would fully approve of purchasing. Coleman was an outstanding citizen here in Ann Arbor and a marvelous, caring gentleman.

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

And, was, first of all, a teacher. The little chair along with the big one is so appropriate.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11 a.m.

You would have no problem passing the hat and coming up with enough contributions to fund a memorial to Coleman. He was truly Ann Arbor's Renaissance Man.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 10:37 a.m.

#1 Budget #2 who's going to pay Things like this always are sweater when donations are involved. I really don't see this is going to be a problem. The city will be giving the property so there is a start. I believe in Chicago or New York there are bronze sculptures of people on benches or a man standing with an umbrella. When I was younger I thought these were the coolest things and as a tourist I had to have picture. So the chair idea and other installations in the future can be a great thing for the city.

Jessica Webster

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 6:46 a.m.

I think it's a great idea. Someone mentioned it at Mr. Jewett 's memorial Saturday and I've been thinking about it ever since. I'd contribute.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Rename Skyline High to Coleman Jewett HS. Then make an adult size and a child size permanent Adirondack chair at the market with a plaque about Mr. Jewett. Make sure these chairs are useable, not just a statue or monument to look at and use the public art funds to accomplish this end.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 12:27 a.m.



Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:50 a.m.

Coleman Jewett was a Great Human Being! I L-O-V-E the idea of a Bronze Memorial Chair at the Farmer's Market (and maybe an additional "Little Person's Chair"). But the project Must be funded with free-will donations; Not administered by the "public spirited" citizens that purchased the Waste-of-Taxpayer-Multi-Dollars for the City Hall Urinal "created" by the German "artist." Do it right (Bank of Ann Arbor managed, keep Hieftje politically-appointed "art experts" out of it) and I will Generously donate.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 6:03 a.m.

You have already donated to the Ann Arbor Art Fund if you pay taxes. Why not use the money and execute this memorial this summer?

Kai Petainen

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:49 a.m.

fantastic idea!


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:43 a.m.

I hope there is a photo of Mr. Jewett included in any memorial...of course if his family agrees to it.

Jack Baker

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:20 a.m.

I like Kathy Griswold's suggestion that it involve more than one chair, and especially it be welcoming for young adults/children. A fitting tribute for a great Ann Arbor icon! He touched many lives in our community!

music to my ear

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:09 a.m.

how about everybody donates one dollar ,take a bucket and put it somewhere safe at the farmers market ." wella "money for the chair " one dollar dog no holler "


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 6:15 p.m.

wella? Is that supposed to be voilĂ ?

Katherine Griswold

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:08 a.m.

More importantly, I think Coleman would love the idea. My only suggestion is instead of one chair, why not two child-size chairs for children to actually sit in at the market. I remember Coleman placing stuffed animals in his small Adirondack chairs to get the attention of young children. It was always a delight to watch him interact with children and talk about the animals in his chairs. Two small chairs would honor him as an educator and a craftsman.

Dan Ezekiel

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 2:59 a.m.

Kathy, this is a fine supplement to the original wonderful idea. Coleman had a special place for children in his giant heart. When I bought two Adirondack chairs from him, he threw in a miniature one gratis, because he enjoyed my kids sitting and talking to him when I brought them to the market. I saw a picture of Coleman listening to a little girl and it brought back the way he listened to children with full attention.

Bob Needham

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

Very nice thought.

Jack Gladney

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 3:36 a.m.

I think the mayor should en-panel a commision to study the matter. Let's budget $13,000 for the commission's research and feasibility study and site survey. Then let's put aside $10,000 for the commission to go on furniture shopping trips to find the right style of chair to dip in bronze so we have a prototype to present to several prospective artisans who should be paid out of a special fund not to exceed $20,000 set up to pay the expenses of said artisans so that their proposed works can be presented to the full Council so that they can determine a budgeted amount for the actual bronze chair.....


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 3:19 a.m.

Use all of the money from the silly Art Fund. I can think of no better use. But make sure the artist is local and not from another country or far away. And bolt it down so no one will steal it.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 12:29 a.m.

Use PRIVATE funds, not taxpayer funds. Bolting it down is a great idea. Make sure you can clean off the graffiti that will inevitably appear, especially since it's across from Community High.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

good ideas, justcurious, especially the part where it gets bolted down so it doesn't get ripped off. some people in this town have no conscience what-so-ever!!!!

Yael Ganet

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 3:18 a.m.

sell the pathetic red messes in West Park to an alternate community who likes art which stabs you in the back...take the money and...VOILA! Plenty of cash for a Coleman memorial while causing Coleman to smile and be content to see the progress made on account of him!!!

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:58 a.m.

The poll gets at the basic question of whether you like the concept. I'm hoping to see a good discussion take off in the comments section here about whether the city should help pay for something like this. If so, what would be a good percentage contribution? 20% city funding and 80% private funding? More than that? Less than that?


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 12:29 a.m.

0% from the city, 100% from private funds.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 3:34 a.m.

0% city funding other than the management of handling the public fundraising collection and maintenance of the piece.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:47 a.m.

Great idea, as long as Hieftje pays for it himself, or privately raises the funds. Something like this should not be paid with public city funds.

Jeff Renner

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:32 a.m.

Wonderful idea!

An Arborigine

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:32 a.m.

Privately funded, this would be a fitting memorial by those who knew this man.