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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Greet summer with a tour of 19 dragonfly benches in downtown Naperville


Above / The sidewalks in Downtown Naperville now feature 19 benches shaped as dragonflies, magically transformed with colorful paints, wonderful wit and whimsical art to promote “Flying Into Summer,” the season that begins Wed., June 21. Unlike summertime no-see-ums, the latest dragonfly-shaped seats welcome visitors to “Come-see-um!” and sit for a spell! (PN Photo)

(PN Photo)

Among the many attractive signs that summer has arrived is the placement of downtown Naperville summer sculptures, complete with colorful wit and whimsy that inspire the imagination of local artists such as Marianne Lisson Kuhn.

For 2023, Kuhn has painted two benches, both pictured above and located along the north side of W. Jefferson Avenue. One is sponsored by local business Caton Commercial Real Estate Group and the other by Tim Pabich Magnitech.

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“We’ve seen dinosaurs, sailboats, dogs, pickup trucks, and so many other fun and creative sculptures over the years,” noted Danielle Tufano, Executive Director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance.

Remember when this sailboat sculpture painted by artist Marianne Lisson Kuhn displayed seasonal themes on the sidewalks of downtown Naperville? (PN File Photo)

This year’s sculpture theme is Flying Into Summer. As a result, 19 uniquely creative dragonfly benches now dot the landscape throughout the downtown area, welcoming visitors to sit for moment in between shopping, dining and checking out all that’s new in the central business district.

Why dragonflies?

“We selected the dragonfly bench sculptures not only because they are fun and interactive, but also for symbolic reasons,” said Tufano. “Dragonflies symbolize change and adaptation, which is something that Downtown Naperville is currently experiencing with the City of Naperville’s multiyear Streetscape construction project.”

More change planned for downtown

Tufano went to to say that the downtown project began in 2022 with work on Jefferson Avenue and Main Street and will continue in 2024 along Washington Street. These projects will focus on continued growth and improvements to enhance the pedestrian experience, improve compliance with accessibility requirements, reconstruct the roadways, and repair/replace utilities in the downtown area.

“They will also leave us with conveniently wider sidewalks, upgraded LED light fixtures, and a multitude of other pedestrian-friendly resources that downtown visitors will enjoy for many years to come,” Tufano added.

Again, local artist Kuhn has lent her signature style to two of the downtown Naperville attractions.

Since the inception of the downtown sculpture exhibits, the fine art of Marianne Lisson Kuhn has been featured among local artists. Look for two of her designs on “dragonfly” benches, sure to display her love for community and its history. (PN File Photo)

For years, Kuhn’s art has distinguished itself on local Century Walk murals along Main Street and Washington Street.

Originally painted in 2011 by Marianne Lisson Kuhn, “Faith, Hope and Charity” displays Naperville Freemasons’ values while honoring 12 famous American Masons on one side and 12 well-known Naperville Masons on the other. (PN File Photo)

With the exception of 2020, the Downtown Naperville Alliance has been coordinating the creation and installation of the sculptures to add fun and flair to the heart of the city since 2012.

Dragonfly benches will be on display through mid-September. 

Wander around downtown and enjoy the painted creations by a variety of artists.

Be sure to check the backside of the benches, too, for hidden surprises such as the State Bird of Illinois. (PN Photo)

Download a map to easily find all the sponsored sculptures on the Downtown Naperville Alliance website.

The community is welcome to help select the favorite Summer Sculpture in July and August by casting votes on the DNA website.

Downtown Naperville Alliance

The Downtown Naperville Alliance serves as a marketing and advocacy partner for Naperville’s downtown Central Business District, comprised of 300 businesses, including shops, restaurants, spas, and service businesses. Consider DNA gift cards a perfect way to say “thanks,’ “happy birthday” or “just because.”

For more information, visit downtownnaperville.com.

Cheers to a safe and enjoyable summer.

One more thing… Whenever visiting downtown on a Thursday afternoon, plan to pick up a to-go order from one of the Naperville’s many downtown eateries for a picnic in Central Park during a Naperville Municipal Band concert. Concerts begin promptly at 7:30PM every Thursday evening though August 10. Everybody’s welcome. Concerts are free.

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.


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