Book benches unveiled

·4 min read

Jul. 24—GREENSBURG — As part of the continuing effort to bring a little culture and visual interest to the area stretching from Rebekah Park to the Tree County Players building on East Main Street, the Decatur County Greensburg Public Library, in league with the Arts and Cultural Council and the Decatur County Visitors Center (Tourism), posted a contest soliciting design ideas for four white fiberglass book benches. The fiberglass creations, resembling an open book, were to be painted by the artists chosen for the project and sprayed with a durable clear coating by Enneking Auto Body (who also delivered them back to the library when they were finished.)

The benches will be placed around the community with two at the library, one at Rebekah Park, and one at the Tree County Players Playhouse on Main Street.

The goal of the project, other than to create festive places in the community to sit and watch passersby, is to brighten up places that are pretty exciting already, and instill in the community an understanding and appreciation of art and the joys of reading.

"These benches will be a place for people to sit and enjoy the space around them, provide a moment of rest, and also encourage interest in books, reading and art," Lori Durbin said.

Durbin sits on the Arts and Cultural Council Board of Directors and works as the Greenburg Library Adult Services Director. So her efforts, combined with the creativity of Children's Librarian Jill Pratt, made this all work out.

The Decatur County Visitors Commission awarded the library the Community Enhancement Grant for the project and the Decatur County Community Foundation awarded the library a Small Projects Grant for this as well. This is an effort from the whole community.

And now the benches are finished, waiting to be taken to their forever homes, "dotting" the community with color and charm.

Four local artists were chosen for the project and each submitted a design using a children's book as it's theme.

Kenzie Ebbing will be a 9th grade student at Greensburg Community High School. She chose the book "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault with illustrations by Lois Ehlert. She was the winner of the Greensburg Junior High Yearbook Cover Contest in 2020 and designed the T-shirt for the Junior High Drama Club this year.

Ebbing is a barista at The Branch Gathering Place + Coffee House and hand drew the large menu there. She also painted/drew the window displays for a capital campaign for the business.

Greg Potter from Franklin chose E.B. White's Charlotte's Web with illustrations by Garth Williams. He served four tours in Iraq as a combat infantryman and now focuses on his love of art. He is a board member of the Franklin Department of Public Art and a member of the Public Arts Advisory Commission in Franklin.

Potter chose Charlotte's Web because it was one of his favorite books as a child. His bench includes a collage of the different characters in the story, some quotes from the book, and even a happy Templeton with a rotten egg.

Jessica Taylor chose the classic "Winnie the Pooh" by A.A. Milne with original illustrations by Ernest Howard Shepard. She lives in Martinsville and has an Associate's Degree in Applied Science in Pastry Arts. She chose to use a compilation of stories from Winnie the Pooh for her bench, opting to portray the characters closer to the original drawings from the book.

"From the time I was very small, Winnie the Pooh has been a story of innocence, whimsy, and friendship. I wanted to depict all of those in my design. I used vivid colors and tried to capture the love of these friends in my work," Taylor said.

Stacy Hardesty-Gray chose "Pete the Cat" by author and illustrator James Dean. She is a Madison resident who's been teaching art for 22 years. Her work can be found in the murals and public arts projects in Ripley and Jefferson Counties. She recently finished painting two large murals for Jac-Cen-Del Elementary School. She also works with art students on special projects for the community, mentoring and advising them in the creative process. Hardesty-Gray was the recipient of the Lilly Teacher Creativity Award in 2009.

She submitted three designs featuring Pete the Cat and chose this book because her personal art "includes mainly animal portraiture" so she was "drawn to the image of Pete the Cat with the other characters." She was inspired by the positive messages in all of the Pete books and believes that "as a society, we desperately need more positivity around us."

Each bench goes on a cement slab, but Durbin said that part of this project is still in the works.

"It is my goal to have them installed by the end of September at the very latest. The Parks Department will be pouring the slab and mounting the one that goes to Rebekah Park," Durbin said.

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-3111, ext 217011 or email bill.rethlake@greensburgdailynews.com

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