Vail’s EpicPromise and the KAC hope to raise a Motherlode for local nonprofits |

Vail’s EpicPromise and the KAC hope to raise a Motherlode for local nonprofits

Vail and the Kimball Art Center hope local nonprofits will hit the Motherlode when they partner for the EpicPromise Chairs for Charity and Community Grants Reception next week.

Three days of art — featuring recycled chairs of Park City Mountain’s Motherlode lift — will include voting and silent-auction bidding that starts on Dec. 8 and will culminate with a celebration of community commitment and nonprofits on Dec. 10, said Nicky DeFord, director of community engagement for Vail.

"EpicPromise is our company’s sustainability program that contains all of our environmental efforts and it also contains all of our community giving and employee/community engagement programs, where our employees volunteer and give back to the community," DeFord explained. "The Park City community are familiar with our grant programs and we have been giving them out for the past couple of years.

"Last year we gave more than $1.3 million to the Park City community, and next week we’ll announce our next round of those grants," she said. "You will have to stay tuned to find out how much we will be giving, but it’s a big number that we’re proud of and one that we hope will continue to grow."

The reception, which will feature Bill Rock, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Vail Resorts, and the Park City Giving Council, will include a short presentation about the future goals of Vail’s EpicPromise, DeFord said.

"This year, we’re focusing our messages around children and we’ll talk about what we do for the kids from academics to sports to enrichments," she said. "We give about $7.8 million away a year as a company and $5 million of that goes to kids’ programs in all of our Vail communities."

The company is looking to increase its commitment in the community and this year, Vail is working with the Kimball Art Center to raise a little more money with Chairs for Charity, a project that partners local nonprofits with artists who refurbish and create new works of art from the old Motherlode ski lift chairs, DeFord said.

"The Chairs for Charity (idea) came in after we decided to replace the Motherlode lift at Park City Mountain," DeFord said. "We realized that this chairlift has a lot of meaning to this community. So we tried to figure out how can we, instead of just recycling the materials or giving it to another ski resort, allow the Motherlode to live on in this community.

"We wanted to find a way to help our nonprofits use the chairs to make some additional money for their incredibly important programs," she said. "So, we decided to auction them off and I called Robin at the Kimball Art Center and told her about the idea."

Marrouche told DeFord about a similar fundraiser called the Charity Lift the art center had conceived in 2011.

"I sent Nicky a video we did a after Canyons took down the Golden Eagle chair lift," Marrouche said. "Since the event was so popular, I was able to tell Nicky that it was successful on a number of levels."

Beyond fundraising, the Charity Lift was a lively and spirited event that brought together nonprofits that had different missions, according to Marrouche.

"I told Nicky that doing something like this now was a great idea, because everyone has special memories of Motherlode," Marrouche said. "I told her that this is a way to keep those memories in the community."

There are 18 nonprofits and artists participating in Chairs for Charity this year.

See list of at the bottom of this story.

"The chairs will be on display on our walkway at the Kimball Art Center, beginning at noon on Dec. 8 and the public can look at the chairs and then come inside and vote for their favorite chair," Marrouche explained. "The nonprofit whose chair gets the most votes will get a little extra money added to the auction price."

Silent-auction bids will also begin on Dec. 8 and culminate during the gala on Dec. 10.

"We’ve had such an alarming request from people who want to start bidding on the chairs, so we’re going to start the bidding early," Marrouche said. "Also, if people cannot attend the final auction gala on Dec. 10, the nonprofits will offer representatives assigned to take proxy bids."

The artist working on the Kimball Art Center’s chair is R. Nelson Parrish, a California-based artist who worked on an art center chair in 2011.

"Nelson is a huge celebrity artist right now, but [that] he dedicated his Thanksgiving holiday to come back and do this for free for the Kimball speaks volumes about his character and commitment," Marrouche said. "It just warms my heart."

Parrish took time to talk with The Park Record during his time in Park City last week.

"When Robin asked me a few months ago to do this, I started churning ideas in the back of my head," Parrish said. "I showed up on Friday before Thanksgiving and started working on it."

Parrish has enjoyed the project because it allowed him to branch out.

"I decided to do something really special and over the top in terms of quality," he said. "So, a lot of what we’ve been doing is finding the right people to facilitate the ideas I have, which is not normally how I work."

Parrish worked with Full Blown Coating for the powder coating and partnered with Silver State Fabrics, who donated their material, for the seat cover.

"They use recycled PVC and urethane to make the fabric," he said. "In fact, all of the businesses I contacted use materials that are as environmentally friendly as possible."

The stitching on the seat was done by Sewlong Custom Covers.

"The whole thing is designed so it can sit outside and withstand the elements," Parrish said. "I like to build things that last."

Soul Poles also donated a pair of its custom-made bamboo ski poles for the project.

"I will also paint a pair of poles that will go with the chair," Parrish said. "It will be similar to the Limiteds that I do. They will also be hand painted and the narrative will be reflected in the poles."

The artist said the project’s concept was inspired by elevation.

"You have the chairlift as a symbol of elevating, a movement," he said. "When you think about the history of Park City and the history of the Kimball Art Center, you see it’s all been a compilation of these little evolutions and progresses that has pushed upwards.

"Therein lies this ethos," Parrish said. "We started being hands-on and by sheer will pulled ourselves up the ladder, without forgetting who we are."

The colors Parrish selected for the chair also have symbolic meanings.

"The landscape, particularly in Park City, are linked through the orange of Hermes and blues," he said. "These colors are in the Utah license plates and are also in the Kimball Art Center’s logo.

"As I drive from California to Salt Lake, I see these colors," he said. "You see the oranges coming out of the desert and then you get into the blues and greens when you get to the mountains. I am using color and narrative and linking different lineage together."

Parrish is honored to create another chair for the Kimball Art Center.

"I have worked with other nonprofits and this by far is the absolute best in how they treat not only me, but their patrons, the kids that are part of the programs and the community," he said. "This is world class. Any opportunity for me to come back here and work for free, I will do it, because I believe in the Kimball and I believe in Robin."

Hosting the Chairs for Charity and the EpicPromise Community Grants Reception is also an honor for the Kimball Art Center, which recently moved to its new location in Prospector, Marrouche said.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for us because it gives us visibility to those who haven’t had the opportunity to visit the new location yet," she said. "We love being the community art center and this is a way for the community to come together.

"Vail has been such a dedicated and valued partner within the community and their corporate philanthropy is astounding, and this is an example of how creative they are," Marrouche said. "They are really a good company to work with."

Nonprofit and artists participating in the EpicPromise Chairs for Charity

for the Park City Food Pantry

  • Utah Avalanche Center — Daniel Bell
  • Swaner — Mary Perry with welding by Jim Steinmetz
  • Peace House — Lisa Sorensen
  • Habitat for Humanity — Justin Wheatley
  • Youth Sports Alliance — Lisa Hale
  • Park City Museum — Janet Massimino
  • Kimball Art Center — R. Nelson Parrish
  • Park City Education Foundation — Ron MacDonald with Helen Hanahan and Fred Conlon
  • KPCW — Bill Kranstover and Malia Denali
  • Egyptian Theatre — Bill Kranstover and Malia Denali again
  • National Ability Center — Fred Conlon
  • Summit Land Conservancy — Mary Beth and Mark Maziarz
  • People’s Health Clinic — Renee Mox Hall
  • Mountain Trails Foundation — Karl Redel
  • Park City Food Pantry — Josee Nadeau
  • Park City Institute — Jenny Knaack
  • Recycle Utah — Ron Butkovitch
  • Park City Community Foundation — Bridgette Meinhold

    Vail and the Kimball Art Center will partner for the EpicPromise Chairs for Charity and Community Grants Reception that will be held at the Kimball Art Center, 1401 Kearns Blvd., on Thursday, Dec. 10, from 5 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. The chairs will be on exhibit from Tuesday, Dec. 8 through Thursday, Dec. 10. For more information, visit

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