Steve Farland's colossal wooden soldiers need a new home.
Farland is better known as the Chairman. From a cavernous warehouse on Navajo Street, in Englewood's old industrial district, he sells chairs and barstools, mainly for commercial clients.
There are treasures, too: antique lamps, art pieces, an old hardwood cigar bar, even stained glass from one of Al Capone's speakeasies.
But in the heart of the warehouse, amid century-old couches, stand the giants: towering statues of mystical soldiers, nearly 30 feet tall, with names like the Guardian, the Sentinel and the Creator — all made of chairs.
With the warehouse soon to be leveled to make way for a five-story apartment building, Farland is hoping someone wants to display the mighty creations.
They came to Farland in a vision decades ago, he said, but not until his family endured a lengthy battle to rescue a loved one did he feel the time was right to build them.
The vision came when he was a young father, visiting the Shafer chair factory in north Denver, before he became the Chairman.
“I saw this pile of old broken chairs,” Farland said. “I instantly saw the soldiers. It was a holy, spiritual moment. I didn't tell anyone for more than 20 years.”
Starting with a few chairs he brought home from the Shafer factory, Farland starting dealing in seating, and people started calling him the Chairman. Over the years he's provided the seats for many of Colorado's finest restaurants. On his chairs have rested the rear ends of presidents and celebrities.
Then, in 2010, Farland and his wife Barbara faced the daunting task of rescuing her mother Mary, age 95, from neglectful caretakers in New Jersey. As they battled to reclaim Mary's power of attorney, Farland said he thought, “I'm going to need an army. And God said to me, 'Build them now.'”
Farland hired Brian Sartor, an artist and sculptor, who turned his vision into reality.
The collection of seven “soldiers of peace” have toured the nation as a collection called “Victory,” under an endeavor Farland and Sartor call “Chairborne Arts.”
Each of the sculptures has a deeper meaning. “Soul Man,” for instance, is thin and sheer.
“He represents who we really are,” Farland said. “Even the biggest baddest dude is still soul. We look out over the brokenness, and we think, I am part of everything that's beautiful and everything that's broken. I am soul.”
After nearly 30 years, the Chairman will likely become a scaled-back, online-only business, Farland said, and amid tight warehouse space in the Denver area, he's scrambling for a place to go.
He'd rather not see Victory packed up into crates. He's hoping someone out there would like to display the giants.
The message of Victory is one of peace and connection, Farland said.
“From these broken pieces, I see a vision of healing,” he said. “There are no unimportant pieces. Little parts hold up big parts. Embrace the brokenness to find what makes us whole.”
With time drawing short, Farland doesn't know where his soldiers will go next, but he hopes to share them with the world.
“The world needs victory more than ever right now,” he said.
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