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Public Art Advisory Board discusses decorative benches for Lodi

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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:34 am, Thu Jul 26, 2012.

A park bench that looks like a Cheerios box? A new seating area in front of Lodi Beer Company made out of beer kegs? A bench constructed out of toilets in front of City Hall?

Those were some of the ideas brainstormed at a Public Art Advisory Board meeting Wednesday for artistic benches that could be placed around town.

Councilman Bob Johnson presented the idea of asking artists to design benches after traveling to Ohio and finding out about a similar project in the city of Hamilton.

In 2007, Hamilton asked companies to sponsor a bench. An artist would then construct or paint it to be displayed around town. The city called it the "County Seat" contest, because Hamilton is the seat of Butler County.

Thirty-eight benches were completed, and some still remain on display in Hamilton. Johnson compared the project to when the commission brought 10 of Seward Johnson's lifelike statues to Lodi for a three-month exhibit in 2011.

The main difference, Johnson said, is this project could be paid for with business sponsorships as opposed to the $22,500 it cost the Public Art Advisory Board for the Seward Johnson exhibit. And it could even generate money for more art in public places projects, he said.

The city of Hamilton made $7,000 from auctioning off 13 of the benches. The total project, including sponsorships, raised $35,000.

"It's an opportunity to start a dialogue similar to the Seward Johnson statues, but they could remain here or be sold to raise money," Johnson said.

He showed a poster the city of Hamilton sold of all the benches. The benches included a train riding along the tracks, a large sun shining, a bulldog representing a local high school, an actual car bumper and a mosaic tiled bench.

Johnson's favorite was the toilet bench in front of the Butler County Courthouse.

"The best one is the toilet seats in front of the county building," Johnson said. "I'd love to see something like that in front of City Hall. I'd do it myself."

The board agreed to look at bringing a similar project to Lodi. Commission chair Cathy Metcalf said the hardest part will be getting sponsors.

Commissioner Dave Kirsten said he is excited about the revenue potential. The board will discuss the project further at a future meeting.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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