Public art projects have been popping up all over in recent years as a way to spruce up neighborhoods, highlight local artists and create community connections.
Tinley Park's contribution, the Benches on the Avenue, has become one of the village's most popular attractions, drawing thousands of residents and visitors annually to the downtown area. The colorful benches feature the work of amateur and professional artists while providing spots to rest while strolling through town.
“We're thrilled to be bringing back this wildly popular public art program for its 17th year," said Joanne Carroll of the Tinley Park marketing department. “The benches have become one of Tinley Park's most popular attractions. All season long you will see families and groups of school children taking photos along Oak Park Avenue.”
Each year there is a different theme for the project, with “Hooray for Hollywood,” “Toyland,” “Classic TV,” “America the Beautiful” and “Treasured Family Musicals” featured in the past.
This year the benches have an “Around the World” theme, with colorful, imaginative, three-dimensional works inspired by travel destinations, iconic or historic landmarks and hot vacation locations. The benches debuted in May and will remain on display through October.
“This public art program was first created by the Village of Tinley Park and its MainStreet Commission to create an art project that would invite residents and visitors to the downtown area,” said Carroll. “The theme is selected by the village’s marketing department and marketing and branding commission, who will select the final designs.”
Each bench is sponsored by a local business or individual. At the end the season, the sponsor takes possession of the bench or it is donated to a nonprofit organization.
“A call to artists is sent out to amateur and professional artists, and they are asked to submit designs. Once the artists are selected, they have eight weeks to complete their bench which will feature imaginative, three-dimensional art,” said Carroll.
Nearly two dozen benches can be found along Oak Park Avenue featuring a Bavarian castle, an Egyptian pharaoh, a collage representing Nashville and the Sydney Opera House, among others. Visit tinleypark.org for photos and background each bench and a map with their locations.
The benches are also the focus of a scavenger hunt.
You don’t need the skills of Sherlock Holmes to participate in the Tinley Park’s Benches on the Avenue Around the World Scavenger Hunt. Find the official game sheet at tinleypark.org, print it out and use the clues to locate each bench. Then examine the bench carefully to answer the questions beneath the clues.
Once you’ve completed your game card, drop it in the drop-box outside the Tinley Park Chamber of Commerce, 17316 S. Oak Park Ave. Those who answer all questions correctly will be entered into a drawing for fun prizes, including one of this year’s benches. Enter by Oct. 1.
Stay up-to-date on what's happening
Receive the latest in local entertainment news in your inbox weekly!