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updated: 5/19/2017 12:04 PM

Summer sculptures turn books into benches in Naperville

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  • Artist Marianne Lisson Kuhn paints the cover of "Goodnight Moon" onto a book bench sculpture, one of 15 that will be displayed this summer in downtown Naperville beginning Father's Day weekend.

      Artist Marianne Lisson Kuhn paints the cover of "Goodnight Moon" onto a book bench sculpture, one of 15 that will be displayed this summer in downtown Naperville beginning Father's Day weekend.
    Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

  • The garage studio at Marianne Lisson Kuhn's house in Naperville contains books like "The Sneetches" by Dr. Seuss and a vintage Winnie the Pooh, which she is using as inspiration for three book bench sculptures she is painting for display this summer in the city's downtown.

      The garage studio at Marianne Lisson Kuhn's house in Naperville contains books like "The Sneetches" by Dr. Seuss and a vintage Winnie the Pooh, which she is using as inspiration for three book bench sculptures she is painting for display this summer in the city's downtown.
    Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

  • Two of the book bench sculptures being painted by Naperville artist Marianne Lisson Kuhn include "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," right, and a cover based on a 1917 souvenir book about Naperville, with images of four 1800s hotels inside. The sculptures will be displayed this summer in downtown Naperville beginning Father's Day weekend.

      Two of the book bench sculptures being painted by Naperville artist Marianne Lisson Kuhn include "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," right, and a cover based on a 1917 souvenir book about Naperville, with images of four 1800s hotels inside. The sculptures will be displayed this summer in downtown Naperville beginning Father's Day weekend.
    Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

 
 

Summer sculptures in downtown Naperville recently have taken the form of cars, golf balls and baseballs, but this year, they'll be books.

Artists are working to paint and decorate 15 Fiberglass "book benches" for display June 16 through mid-September along the sidewalks in front of downtown shops and restaurants.

The sculptures, sponsored by Naperville businesses and typically donated to charities at the end of their time on the streets, will offer both a colorful glimpse into scenes from stories and a quirky place to relax, says Katie Wood, executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance.

Inside Naperville artist Marianne Lisson Kuhn's studio/garage, three of them are turning from bland to bright with each brush stroke.

"It's really fun to paint on 3-D objects," she said. "It's just fun to look at the sculpture and see what you can do with it, especially in the nooks and crannies."

The painter is turning two of the book-shaped canvasses, sponsored by BBM Incorporated and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, into scenes from childhood favorites "Goodnight, Moon" and "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Recreating the scenes of "Oz" required some old-fashioned, low-tech research.

"I had to get out the VHS movie again to focus on what did the houses look like in Munchkinland," Lisson Kuhn said.

For her third sculpture, she turned to Bryan Ogg at the Naper Settlement to help with another kind of research -- finding historical photos of hotels in Naperville in the early 1800s.

She's painting four of them -- the Pre-Emption House, Scott Hotel, New York House and Washington House -- into a piece called "Stagecoach to Naperville" sponsored by Marquette Companies, which developed the new Hotel Indigo in the Water Street District.

While the bench featuring historic hotels isn't based on a work of literature, its outer side was inspired by the teal green cover of a 1917 souvenir book about Naperville, Lisson Kuhn said.

Most of the 15 benches will have a book as their theme.

"It does tie in with the importance of summer reading," Wood said.

The sculptures are coming as downtown Naperville prepares for several new shops and restaurants.

Hanna Andersson children's apparel boutique opens Friday at 140 W. Jefferson Ave. SixtyFour -- A Wine Bar and Blue Sushi Sake Grill are scheduled to open next month along Water Street. A shop selling seasonings called Savory Spice is set to open this summer along Washington Street. And Aloha Poke, a sushi bowl restaurant, is expected to open this summer or fall at 215 S. Washington St., Wood said.

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