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updated: 6/16/2017 5:30 PM

Book-shaped sculptures fill downtown Naperville with imaginative seating

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  • Finley Montague, 7, of Naperville, checks out the imagery of a newly installed book bench in downtown Naperville called "Harry Potter Mystery at the Carillon" by Ken Markiewicz of Crayons Gone Wild. The bench, at Jefferson Avenue and Main Street, is one of 15 such temporary seating spots installed early Friday by the Downtown Naperville Alliance and Naperville public works department.

      Finley Montague, 7, of Naperville, checks out the imagery of a newly installed book bench in downtown Naperville called "Harry Potter Mystery at the Carillon" by Ken Markiewicz of Crayons Gone Wild. The bench, at Jefferson Avenue and Main Street, is one of 15 such temporary seating spots installed early Friday by the Downtown Naperville Alliance and Naperville public works department.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville residents Patrice Basso and Julie Lewis observe the "Curious George Goes Downtown" book bench by Donna Davis. The bench, at Jackson Avenue and Main Street, is one of 15 installed for the summer as part of the Downtown Naperville Alliance's annual sculpture program.

      Naperville residents Patrice Basso and Julie Lewis observe the "Curious George Goes Downtown" book bench by Donna Davis. The bench, at Jackson Avenue and Main Street, is one of 15 installed for the summer as part of the Downtown Naperville Alliance's annual sculpture program.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • "A Tribute To Shel" by artist Paul Kuhn, installed outside Nichols Library in downtown Naperville, is one of 15 book bench sculptures sponsored by local businesses as part of the Downtown Naperville Alliance's annual art display.

      "A Tribute To Shel" by artist Paul Kuhn, installed outside Nichols Library in downtown Naperville, is one of 15 book bench sculptures sponsored by local businesses as part of the Downtown Naperville Alliance's annual art display.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • "Fantasy Field" by Angela Morgan is one of 15 book bench sculptures set to grace downtown Naperville until mid-September. The sculptures were installed early Friday morning.

      "Fantasy Field" by Angela Morgan is one of 15 book bench sculptures set to grace downtown Naperville until mid-September. The sculptures were installed early Friday morning.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Pages of the "Curious George Goes Downtown" book bench sculpture unfold Friday at Jackson Avenue and Main Street, shortly after the sculpture was installed as part of the Downtown Naperville Alliance's annual art display.

      Pages of the "Curious George Goes Downtown" book bench sculpture unfold Friday at Jackson Avenue and Main Street, shortly after the sculpture was installed as part of the Downtown Naperville Alliance's annual art display.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
 

The imaginative wonder of books to transport people to other worlds has made it -- in sculpture form -- to downtown Naperville.

Fifteen painted book benches were installed early Friday morning, featuring artist designs inspired by popular reads like "Curious George" and the "Harry Potter" series.

The book benches are the latest shape in the Downtown Naperville Alliance's sculpture program, which moved from winter to summer two years ago and recently has featured classic cars, golf balls and baseballs, all of which have doubled as seating.

"I hope people enjoy them," Naperville artist Marianne Lisson Kuhn said about this season's artistic outdoor furniture pieces. "It's always fun to see what all the different artists do with the same sculpture."

Lisson Kuhn painted three of the book benches, turning two of them into scenes from "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" and "Goodnight Moon" and one into images of historic Naperville hotels from the 1800s.

When she visited her pieces Friday, Lisson Kuhn said she already saw people taking a seat and testing them out.

Finley Montague, 7, of Naperville, did just that with another sculpture, titled "Harry Potter Mystery at the Carillon," a twist that puts characters from the well-read magical series up in the heights of Moser Tower along the Riverwalk and shows a young boy gazing up in their direction.

After artists, including Donna Davis, Ken Markiewicz, Paul Kuhn and Angela Morgan, finished decorating their benches, the sculptures were coated with a clear glaze to protect their color from summer sun, pouring rain and sticky drips off ice cream cones.

"It's always fun to see them with the clear coat on," Lisson Kuhn said. "It really brings them to life."

Three sculptures are on Van Buren Avenue near Main Street, six are along Jefferson Avenue between Webster and Washington streets, another five are along Jackson Avenue, also between Webster and Washington, and the remaining book bench is at Water and Main streets, near the new Water Street District.

The sculptures will be on display through mid-September. Afterward, the businesses that sponsored them will get to decide their fate.

In the past, Katie Wood, executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance, said many businesses have given the sculptures to charities that have auctioned them at fundraisers. Other business owners have given them to schools or parks or set them in their yards.

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