Hudson, Wisconsin – Starting next spring, The Phipps Center for the Arts will launch a new marketing campaign to encourage residents and visitors to explore the small towns of the St. Croix Valley. The Art Bench Trail will connect seven artistic benches that were created between 2006 and 2011, with up to three more benches in the works.
The Phipps is leading the effort as a way to promote tourism to the region and strengthen connections between people and communities through art. The Art Benches are community art projects which build relationships and a sense of civic responsibility among participants, and help spark appreciation for the St. Croix River and the other special qualities of each participating community.
“Each one of these benches has a great story,” says Anastasia Shartin, visual arts director at The Phipps. “People from all backgrounds came together to create them. They also say a lot about the history, wildlife and other ways people connect with the St. Croix River.”
The Kresge Foundation recently awarded the project a grant to help promote the Art Bench Trail as a destination. Next spring, The Phipps and its Bench Project community partners, including the St. Croix Valley Foundation and the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway, will unveil a website (www.artbenchtrail.org), brochures with maps, new signs at each bench, and a marketing campaign to encourage local and visiting tourists to explore the St. Croix Valley, bench-by-bench.
Visiting the benches is a great way to tour the scenic river valley and visit its unique small towns. Most of the benches are located in parks that are good destinations in their own right, and the driving routes connecting them are mostly rural highways which criss-cross the valley.
“Visiting two or three benches will be a perfect way to spend a day with family and friends,” says Shartin. “They’re located in great places to explore or have a picnic, and are near other sights, like local businesses and restaurants, parks, and other natural and historic sites.”
There are currently benches in St. Croix Falls, Marine on St. Croix, Bayport and Hastings in Minnesota, and Somerset, Hudson, and Prescott in Wisconsin. Between 2006 and 2011, the benches were created collaboratively, partnering youth, artists, businesses, towns, and other members of communities to create unique works exploring our connection with the St. Croix Valley’s nature, history and culture.
Individuals or organizations interested in helping plan events or otherwise promoting existing projects, are encouraged to contact Anastasia Shartin, visual arts director at The Phipps, at 715-386-2305, ext. 103 or firstname.lastname@example.org.