Downtown Belfast will is sporting a selection of artistic and functional benches that Our Town Belfast launched for their annual “Please, Be Seated” initiative.

This year there will be a total of 29 benches placed throughout the downtown area, with installation taking place this week, Our Town Belfast Director Dorothy Havey said.

There are 19 new bench creations and 10 returning designs from last year for the public to enjoy.

“The idea for this initiative was a direct answer to the fact we needed more seating,” Havey said. “This project is partially funded by the city of Belfast, so that we can give a stipend to the artists to cover the costs of the materials they use.”

Additional funding comes from local businesses that sponsor a bench or chair designed by a local artist. A small plaque is placed on the bench or chair with the artist’s name and the name of the business that sponsored it.

One of the benches making its debut this summer was designed by Belfast resident Brenda Venture, who crafted a bench that looks like a baby grand piano. Venture said she came up with the design after looking at the piano keys painted on her daughter’s wall.

“I have a lot of musicians in my family. The design was very fast and then I worked on the bench a little bit at a time for three weeks,” Venture said. “This is my first bench design, but I’m already thinking about what I could do for next year.”

Havey said the benches make quite an impression on people, especially tourists, as she recalled receiving a phone call from a woman in Arizona who wanted to know how the project was created. She also said it isn’t uncommon to receive requests from individuals looking to purchase a particular bench.

Last year, Northport resident Steve Wickenden designed a bench using lobster buoys, and it quickly became the most photographed bench that year, Havey said. As a result of its popularity, Havey said, the bench is coming back this year.

“The whole idea of this project is really about giving people a reason to explore Belfast,” Havey said.

The benches will be on display until Columbus Day weekend.

2012 “Please, Be Seated” Artists
Judy Judkins
Bob Nichols w/Amy Nichols
Alan Curry
Michael Hurley
Ron Cowan
Patty King
Ned Lightner
Megan Cullen
Michael Tracey w/Bonnie Pierce
Karen Ireland
Brenda Venture
Marcella Mace Christensen
Steve Cartwright
Mallory Banks Harnden/ Helping Hands Family School
Jeffrey Caldwell
Bob New
Anita Brosius-Scott
Rick Hurwitz
Alan Crichton

Dutch Chevrolet
Camden National Bank
Front Street Shipyard
Waterfall Arts
Coyote Moon
Old Stuff
Cold Mountain Builders
Bangor Savings Bank
Mainely Pottery
Joe Baiungo
Mathews Brothers
Belfast Co-Op

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or