PALM SPRINGS — Benches in Downtown are ideally situated for taking a load off —  and providing some of the best places to people watch. These are not, however, your typical street bench. They are works of art. And, soon there will be more of them.

Main Street Palm Springs, the city of Palm Springs’ Downtown and Uptown Business Association, will expand its existing street bench beautification project.  It was commissioned in July to include 17 new artists who will paint existing concrete benches on Palm Canyon Drive. Main Street received money for this project through a grant from the Palm Springs Public Arts Commission.

The next phase of this project will commission local artists to paint selected public benches in the Uptown area of Palm Canyon Drive. The artists will be compensated for their work from a Public Arts Commission fund. Money comes from local developers’ contribution and are earmarked for public arts projects only. With this expansion, 40 benches will be transformed into works of art on Palm Canyon Drive.

The artists’ designs for the benches were selected to tie into the businesses near the bench location. A floral design will adorn the bench in front of My Little Flower Shop, a food-related design will be applied to the bench near Cheeky’s, and others are matched in the same manner.

The artists that will participate in this extension of the bench beautification project include Katie Campbell, Wallace Covard, Jessyca Frederick, James Gallucci, Monica Garcia, Susan Gresto, Mark Johnson, Lynda Keeler, Siori Kitajima, Paul Kole, Tim Leary, Frank Lemus, Jessica Macias, Ernesto Ramirez, Brett Stevens, Emeline Tate, and Kat Trevino.

The initial bench beautification program included 10 benches, painted by local artist Tysen Knight, and 11 additional benches that were painted by 10 local artists (one artist painted two benches). Members of the Palm Springs Public Arts Commission worked closely with Main Street Palm Springs on this civic improvement campaign. The new benches will be painted in the next few weeks.

“We are delighted that the public has responded so well to the bench program,” Joy Brown Meredith, Main Street Board President and owner of Crystal Fantasy, said in a prepared statement. “Rather than replacing these expensive benches, Palm Springs decided to help our local artists by providing Public Arts Commission grants to beautify them. Creating art on the streets is also a great way to provide a safe activity for community members that also helps our Downtown and Uptown local business owners.”

Ann Sheffer, chair of the Palm Springs Public Arts Commission, advanced this project with Commissioner Russell Pritchard

“We love this collaboration that the Public Arts Commission has with Main Street Palm Springs,” Sheffer said in a prepared statement. “One of the goals of the commission is to issue these civic improvement grants to employ local artists, and we are pleased that this project is continuing. We plan to work with the Visit Palm Springs to create an interactive map of all the art projects, so that they can be enjoyed by visitors and residents.”

In addition to the Main Street benches, the Public Arts Commission has created a Mini-Grant program to match artists with local business owners to create art installations in storefront windows and at sidewalks, crosswalks, and patios. These projects are intended to enliven the streets and draw people to Downtown as it reopens.

In keeping with the Commission’s theme of ‘Art Is Everywhere,’ these mini-grants will also be available to neighborhood organizations with the goal of bringing public art to neighborhoods, parks, and communities in the city.

Details of both programs, and a registry of artists, can be found on the Commission’s website by clicking here.