Chairs from Granny Donuts inspire art, community giving

A West St. Paul woman arranged the chairs from a now closed donut shop to create art - and giving - in her neighborhood.

If you live in West St. Paul you might’ve noticed a little pocket of weirdness outside of a home last fall. A local artist set up two dozen chairs from her favorite donut shop outside on her home’s lawn.

Carolyn Swiszcz is a painter and print-maker, but apart from a passion for the arts, she also has a big sweet tooth, and it’s apparent in much of her work.

"I’m trying to make something that's familiar but unexpected," Swiszcz says in a video on YouTube.

Living in West St. Paul for the last 20 years, she has satisfied her occasional cravings in the seats of her favorite local donut shop: Granny Donuts.

"I love the chairs in there," Swiszcz said. "I love just sugar and fat and walking out of Granny Donuts with a heavy bag full of cream-filled donuts,"

However, last year during the pandemic the donut shop closed for good. Afterwards, she wanted something to remember the shop by because it’s been the inspiration for so much of her art. Instead of leaving with a souvenir, she took it a step further, buying much of the restaurant’s furniture at auction.

"It was a little bit of a surprise. I suddenly was the owner of all of the seating and tables from Granny Donuts," Swiszcz said.

Even more surprising is what she did next, turning her yard into her canvas.

"It’s all part of an effort to try to make this community just a little bit more interesting," Swiszcz said.

On Saturday, Sept. 11, Swiszcz decided she wanted to share her art with all of West St. Paul, so she brought the chairs to a local park, along with plenty of donuts.

"I had about 110 people," Swiszcz said. "We ran out of donuts." 

The community gathering doubled as a food drive, and while they ran out of donuts, donations for Neighbors Inc. food shelf in South St. Paul shelf kept coming.

"There are 25 grocery bags that are full of food and then $371 in cash donations," Swiszcz finished.