Archived Story

Take a seat in Niles

Published 5:21pm Sunday, July 8, 2012

Park Yourself in Niles, a new public art bench project designed to promote local artists and to bring art-loving visitors to the community, is under way.

Two of 20 six-foot benches are already sponsored, Lisa Croteau, program manager of Niles DDA Main Street, said Friday.

A prototype of the sturdy benches with slatted backs is on display in the window outside her office at 210 E. Main St.

Legs and back frames are reclaimed plastic made by Polly Products of Mulliken, Mich.

Sponsorships cost $600, of which $500 is a stipend for artists, who must submit bench designs by Aug. 13.

A 1-by-4-inch plaque affixed to each bench recognizes the sponsor and artist.

A bench committee will notify artists by Aug. 31 if their design is chosen.

Winning artists will be announced Sept. 1, the last day of the French Market.

An anonymous benefactor underwrote the cost of the actual benches — 10 pine for more protected locations and 10 oak for outdoor display — made by Niles schools wood shop teacher Tom Hurst with student help.

Sponsors may select the artist and design on a first-come, first-served basis, based on the order in which Niles Main Street receives the full sponsorship amount.

The bench committee will resolve any selection issues that arise.

Materials must be durable to withstand changing weather conditions and safe for the public to touch; must be visible on the bench.

Artists have from Sept. 1 until Jan. 2, 2013, to complete benches, which will be displayed inside businesses starting Jan. 18, 2013, at Hunter Ice Festival and placed on the street Earth Day (April 22, 2013), where they will remain through Nov. 1, 2013, when they will be auctioned.

All proceeds benefit the Niles DDA Main Street program, according to Niles DDA Main Street Chair Nancy Butler.

Benches will be displayed throughout the City of Niles and Niles Charter Township.

“They need to be ‘art’ benches” — not direct advertising, Croteau said.

Call (269) 687-4332 for more information.

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