Hand-Sculpted Chairs to Be Auctioned at LGA Gala

May 1, 2024

HAGUE, NY — Al Rider never intended to build chairs. The engineer-turned-woodworker with a lifelong love of Lake George moved to Hague full time in 2011, where he crafted his second career handmaking tables, cabinets, desks, and countless cutting boards with Lake inlays — but no chairs. “They’re a pain,” Al said.  

That changed two years ago, when he was helping one of his customers, a famous Lake George native named Rachael Ray, find a chair-maker. “I did some projects for Rachael to rebuild her Lake Luzerne home [that burned in 2020], and I tried to find someone to build chairs,” Al recalled. During his research, he came across the Sam Maloof-style chair, which is at once sculptural and functional. “Rachael loved it, and eight months later I delivered two chairs to her,” Al said.

Al continues to make the Maloof chairs out of black walnut for select customers, spending at least 50 hours on a single chair. Now, for the first time, a pair of them — a high back and a low back — will go up for auction at the LGA Gala on July 12 at the Sagamore Resort. 

“I want to keep supporting the Lake I love,” Al explained. “I thought these chairs were a way to help attract people to donate to the LGA. I won’t work with anyone unless they are a Lake Protector. Lake George is one of a kind. A treasure like nothing else in the world.”

Maloof-style chairs made by Al Rider

This pair of chairs by local woodworker Al Rider re-create the Sam Maloof style of furniture design that combines sculpture with function. They will be auctioned at the LGA Gala on July 12 at the Sagamore Resort.

John Cusimano and Rachael Ray sit in chairs made for them by Al Rider.

John Cusimano and Rachael Ray sit in the chairs handcrafted for them by Al Rider for their new home in Lake Luzerne. These Sam Maloof-style chairs mark Al's foray into chair-making two years ago.

The lucky Gala bidder who wins the chairs will be in good company. Original Maloof chairs are found at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the White House. Al said the lumbar design on the high-back chair is “amazing. And the low-back chair hits your back in just the right way.”

The chairs are valued at $3,750 for the high-back and $2,400 for the low-back. Just as Maloof did, Al makes them without nails or metal hardware. “I feel more like a sculptor when I make them,” he said. 

We invite you to purchase LGA Gala tickets here for a memorable evening of cocktails, dinner, music, dancing, and live auction to celebrate and support our united commitment to protecting Lake George.