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Lifestyle

January 2, 2014

Pink Chair Project helped daughter cope with grief

The first time Lynne Schulte painted a pink, plastic Adirondack chair, she was paying a debt.

“I was up in Cushing, Maine, and I was in pretty rough shape,” Schulte said. “My mother passed in 2011, June 5. I had one day when I got back from her funeral to unpack and go off to a planned painting trip. But I had promised somebody a painting in exchange for visiting their house.”

Schulte started to paint the house she was staying in, which had pink shutters, where a pink plastic chair had been left outdoors.

“My mother would love that — that was her favorite color — so I put the chair in the painting,” she said.

That choice released emotions that carried through to November, eventually leaving Schulte with 22 paintings of the same pink chair. On Saturday, Jan. 5, at Abbot Public Library in Marblehead, she will discuss what became the Pink Chair Project.

“I really felt her presence in the chair,” she said. “It really took me aback, but it was very strong.”

After fulfilling her obligation to the homeowner, Schulte started to paint the chair in different settings for her siblings, until eventually she had a show’s worth of art.

“The ideas just kept coming,” she said. “They taught me something about my mother, or about myself or about our relationship.”

Schulte, who lives in Georgetown, carried the chair to different sites that usually held some strong association with her mother, then selected spots in which to paint it.

“We took that chair with us on vacation that summer,” she said. “We went to Rochester, N.Y., her hometown, and put it in places important to her — Rochester Park and my sister’s backyard.

“We also took it to Canada and took photos in Kingston, at Desert Lake resort. By then, we were calling the chair ‘Mom.’”

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