Posted by Barbara Nadeau on Sep 01, 2020

The Rotary Club of Plano Illinois began an ongoing public art initiative in 2018 to benefit their city’s parks, business district, and public spaces, investing $6,000 to start the project.

What started as two separate visions came together in the fall of 2018 in a new public art initiative, according to Barb Nadeau, Plano Alderman and Rotarian. “I am thrilled to help collaborate this project alongside Kelly Browning, owner of Arts on Fire on Route 34.  We began to brainstorm ways to bring public art into the city of Plano over a year ago. Since then, Kelly and members of the Plano Rotary Club have collaborated to propose something amazing,” Nadeau said.

The Plano Rotary Club learned that the City of Plano Parks committee was hoping to install new benches in the nine parks throughout Plano in the summer of 2019. As part of their mission to benefit youth, the Rotarians wanted to participate and to help promote donations to improve the city’s parks.

In a surprising turn of events, Browning, a well-known artist, art instructor, and owner of Arts on Fire in Plano, approached Alderman Nadeau to suggest it was time to start a public arts project and to create artistic benches to be displayed throughout Plano. 

“As a Rotarian and a member of the City of Plano Parks Committee, I just connected Kelly with the Rotarians,” Nadeau said.  “Kelly brought the complete package to the Park’s committee, and now we hope to get the entire city involved!”

The Plano Rotary Club committed to purchasing four benches, with a cost not to exceed $6,000, hoping to hear from many other organizations, individuals, and businesses who would want to be part of this project.  Benches can be ordered through the Plano Rotary or through Arts on Fire. 

Promotion began in fall of 2018, and by early 2019, Browning and a crew of volunteer artists designed and painted seven benches, and local business owner Mark Savitski of Plano Collision Center  volunteered his time to give each bench an automotive clear coat before they were installed in the city.  

Each bench cost $1,500, which includes a blank bench, paint and supplies for the volunteer artist, and a clear coat of protection to preserve the finished artwork. “The benches are being purchased from an Illinois company, the artists are all local artists, and we hope that the donors will come from across our business community,” said Adam Witek, Secretary of the Plano Rotary Club.” As Rotarians, we wanted to place a bench in Plano’s Purple Park and at Fire Station 1, but we also want to place one in front of the Plano Library, and in our downtown area. We hope that other organizations will do the same, and that we can fill the city’s parks and public spaces with art this coming year and in the future.”

Currently, there is a painted bench at Lathrop Park in the center of the city, featuring the history of the site which once held the original school buildings; another at Plano Community Library which features fairy tales; a bench at the Memorial Park featuring all the military units in which Plano residents have served throughout history; a bench at Foli Park featuring fishing opportunities at the lake in the center of the park; a bench at City Park featuring the train bridge that can be seen in the distance at the picturesque location; another bench currently under production for Waubonsee Community College, and another for Arts on Fire business.

The Plano Rotary Club manages the purchases of the blank benches.  Browning coordinates with all the artists, their supply needs, and design ideas to ensure that each bench is tastefully and professionally created. “These benches are a great addition to the city,” said Alderman Tommy Johns, chairman of the Parks Committee.  “Our Parks Committee recommended that the city purchase the bench for Foli Park, and we set aside enough money to install each bench in our parks, and at public spaces in the city,” Alderman Johns said. “We hope this bench project really encourages folks to get out and enjoy our parks,” he added. 

There are several options for people to get involved in this ongoing public art project. Interested individuals, businesses, and organizations can purchase an entire bench or donate to be part of a bench purchase.  Browning will work with donors to design an appropriate image. Volunteer artists can also contact Browning at (630) 273-2119 or  For more information, contact Adam Witek for the Plano Rotary Club at