Every year I look forward to my sister telling me the benches are back in Tinley Park, Illinois. Not ordinary benches, Benches on the Avenue” is a popular public art program turning functional street benches into colorful, creative attractions. Located in downtown Tinley Park, the 20 benches will remain through October.
Every year the benches feature a different theme. Previous themes included last year’s Around the World, Classic TV, America the Beautiful, Toyland and other fun subjects. For its 18th year, this year’s Album Cover Tour pays tribute to iconic album covers. All genres and eras of music are represented. A new feature this year is a QR code to be scanned to hear songs from the featured artist.
The Village of Tinley Park and its MainStreet Commission created this public art program to draw people to the downtown area. I am proof it works because, on a recent visit to see my sister, I gave myself extra time to check out all of the benches. Although I saw all, there were so many others doing the same, I couldn’t get good pictures. Fortunately, Tinley Park marketing assistant Joanne Carroll provided several photos.
One of my favorites is the Kiss Destroyer bench, created by artist and illustrator Rick Villarreal of Ricasso Artworks, with a little help from his children, Lucas and Ella. Commenting on his bench, Villarreal told me, “My favorite band as a kid, even bigger fan as an adult, one of my favorite album covers as a kid, now that I had an opportunity to paint it, I took full advantage of my airbrushing.” Like Villarreal, Destroyer was one of my favorite albums, and he did a fantastic job recreating the cover. With all due respect to Detroit, Tinley Park is now Rock City.
In addition to the benches, there are a lot of fun events planned for Tinley Park this summer, including Cruise Nights, Music in the Plaza, the Downtown Block Party and more. I’m sure I’ll join my sister’s family for some fun in Tinley this summer.
— John Wroblewski, online writer
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