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posted May 7, 2002

Old benches into new: The "Legacy in our Neighbourhood" project.

A month ago the park staff went around and catalogued the park benches to see which ones needed repair or painting. Of 51 benches, over 30 needed work not because of vandalism, but just the wear and tear of a busy park. Since then, the park maintenance crew have been busy replacing broken slats with good slats and bracing lop-sided-benches with new pegs, to make them stand up straight. But the city's bench budget is strained at the moment, and lots of benches still look a bit rough.

Some help is at hand, though. Mary Thorne, marketing manager at the Dufferin Mall, called up to tell us that the mall is co-sponsoring a project called "Legacy in our neighbourhood." Funded by the Ontario Arts Council, it allows two artists to set up a workshop in a storefront at the mall, to involve neighbourhood people in making a piece of art for public space. The two artists, Kristen Fahrig and Jeff Chown, want to transform two park benches to beautifully paint them and carve them with scenes from people's memories and stories of home and an in-ground mosaic mandala. They are inviting anyone of any age from the neighbourhood to come to the mall's "Gallery in Motion" (beside "Bell World") between May 6 and June 9, and work with them on giving shape to this idea. The hours are Monday and Tuesday 4-6, Saturdays 10-12, and Sundays 1-3. Mike Hindle, the park's maintenance supervisor, has given his okay to using the two existing park benches that are in the roughest shape, and Mr.Micelli of the mall's outdoor garden centre has agreed to send over his crew with a fork lift to transport the heavy benches (concrete ends) across the road from the park into the mall, to set them up in the gallery.

Once they're finished, the public-art benches will be returned to our park. So here's your chance to leave your mark in the park, for posterity (people need to sit, after all). The two artists, Kristen Fahrig and Jeff Chown, met, by the way, while working at Spiral Garden (an artist-run children's playground near the Hugh MacMillan Centre, which is the gold standard for all that's inspired and beautiful in playgrounds). And now, here they are, in our own neighbourhood, ready to work with anyone who wants. To find out more, or to register, call Kristen at 416/576-9009.

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