Design committee, art commission seeking three bench sponsors

The Downtown Development Authority and the Niles Public Art Association are seeking sponsors for three benches to be displayed throughout the city. Benches needing sponsors include those by artists Ruth Slater (pictured) and Sandy Williams. (Leader photo/AMBROSIA NELDON)

The Downtown Development Authority and the Niles Public Art Association are seeking sponsors for three benches to be displayed throughout the city. Benches needing sponsors include those by artists Ruth Slater (pictured) and Sandy Williams. (Leader photo/AMBROSIA NELDON)

As the weather breaks in Niles, pops of color will soon be appearing all over the city — and not just naturally.

By Earth Day, the fruits of several local artists’ labor will be revealed to the City of Four Flags as 13 works of art will be displayed throughout town, offering not only masterpieces to revel at, but also several places for visitors to sit and enjoy the city.

The benches, part of a project led by the Niles DDA Main Street’s design committee and the Niles Public Art Association, were painted by local artists and funded by local businesses.

“We have a slew of artists in this town that many people don’t realize,” said Fredda Zeiter, chair of the DDA’s design committee. “This project shows off those artists, but also the sponsors’ support for the community.”

Sponsors paid $600 per bench — $500 of which paid the artist for his or her work, with the other $100 allocated to funding future DDA projects.

Ten of the benches are already sponsored. These include: Andrew Tax and Accounting, Southeast Berrien County Landfill, Lake Michigan College, United Federal Credit Union, Dr. Beckermeyer, MAAC, Leader Publications, the Ready Theater and Niles Community Schools.

Three other benches — created by Sandy Williams, Stephanie Heiple and Ruth Slater — have not yet been sponsored. The design committee and Niles Public Art Association are seeking sponsors for those benches. Sponsors’ business names will be displayed on plaques along with the name of the artist who created the bench. Benches will be placed throughout the city. Specific locations for the benches will be discussed at this week’s design committee meeting.

Zeiter said anyone interested in sponsoring any of the benches may contact her via email at fczeiter@gmail.com.

The benches, built by Niles career and technical education teacher Tom Hurst and local students, were painted by Niles artists — many of whom are members of the Niles Public Art Association — in the basement of the former Niles Post Office during the winter months. Artists include Lucy VandenHeede, Heather Pletcher, Sandy Whitmyer, Sue Clark, Michele Miller, Ruth Slater, Sandy Williams, Mike Morehouse, Jeanne Watson, Susan Adamek, John Lidecker and Stephanie Heiple.

The Niles Public Art Association meets at 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month in the community room of the Niles District Library.

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