Artist Simone Woodard of Chandler

She paints her design on a fiberglass bench that will be displayed in Gilbert's Heritage District. 

Gilbert’s latest streetside adornment will be a bench colorfully painted with a treehouse surrounded by playful Southwest critters.

It will be installed north of Barrio Queen restaurant and on the west side of Gilbert Road in the Downtown Heritage District. The bench will be unveiled during the inaugural Off the Street Art Festival on Oct. 29.

The artist decorating the bench is former teacher and entrepreneur Simone Woodard of Chandler. Her design was chosen by the Arts and Culture Board for its whimsicality and originality.

“I wanted to do something family-friendly. I wanted people to smile when they see it. That’s important to me,” said Woodard, who has been painting it at the Gilbert Historical Museum for the past couple of weeks and needed only to add a resin finish and wax for sealing and durability.

The translucent fiberglass bench in the shape of a living-room couch has some history attached to it. In 2013, it was to be one of 12 public benches that were to be painted artistically with the help of sponsors.

The sponsors didn’t materialize, so the board decided to decorate the model, which was crafted by American Fiberglass in Phoenix and already paid for.

Woodard was paid a stipend of $500 for the work.

“It’s a test bench,” said Diane Fales, a member of the Arts and Culture Board. “We’re just getting one bench out and we’ll go back to the project to see if we can revive it.”

Fales said that the board didn’t want to waste the time and effort already put into the long-planned project.

The bench can be lit, which increases its visual appeal.

“That was the big plus with it; it could be lit and that makes a world of a difference,” Fales said.

The front of the bench depicts daytime, while the back shows the night. The back also features Downtown Gilbert’s most recognizable symbol—its Water Tower.

– Contact Srianthi Perera at 480-898-5613 or srianthi@timespublications.com

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