Designs sought for public art project in downtown Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 July 2013 at 12:00 am

Christine Versteeg submitted this design of a tugboat for a bench-painting art project in Albion.

ALBION – The street furniture in Albion will soon offer more than a place to sit down.

Twelve new benches will tell stories about Albion’s past, and highlight some of the community’s assets. The Albion Main Street Alliance is organizing a public art project where the benches will be painted with heritage themes.

This may include paintings about the community’s ties to the canal, sandstone quarries and agriculture.

Prominent Albionites, such as Santa Claus School founder Charles Howard, also may be depicted on a bench.

I’m helping to round up submissions from artists. There was a public meeting about this project back in May, and I’ve been connecting with artists since then.

There is still time for artists to submit proposals for this project. The deadline to submit a design is 4 p.m. July 16. Those designs could be dropped off at The Lake Country Pennysaver, 170 North Main St., Albion. Or they could be emailed to me at

The rendering must be in color because local and state historic preservation officials want to see the colors.

The 6-foot-long benches will have wooden slats that are very close together. The paintings will be like mini-murals promoting the community. The benches will be outside on the sidewalks from April until late fall. Then will then spend the winter inside local businesses.

Some possible subjects for the benches include: the top of the Briggs building, Mount Albion arch and tower, apples, cobblestones, Chinook salmon, Courthouse Square, tugboats and other canal icons.

Besides Charles Howard, benches could feature Grace Bedell (the Albion girl who wrote to Lincoln, advising him to grow a beard), George Pullman (a furniture maker in Albion before his sleeping railroad car fortune) and a “Governor’s Bench,” featuring Albionite Rufus Bullock who became governor of Georgia, Medina native George Anthony who went on to be Kansas governor, and Sanford Church of Albion, who served as NY’s lieutenant governor.

Artists are welcome to submit their own ideas for a themed bench.

Artists will be paid $400 for their work. This project is part of $50,000 in street-scape improvements that are being paid for with a NY Main Street grant.

For more information, contact me at