Acton’s new public art project showcases businesses in town

By Penny Kmitt, WBZ-TV News

ACTON – If you come to Acton, Massachusetts, you’ll see some intriguing pieces of public art around town.

Julie Pierce, Acton’s Director of Economic and Community Development, launched the public art initiative as a way to promote community cohesion, bring attention to small businesses, support local artists, and highlight the town’s values.

“Art can bring people together and serve as a spark for community unity,” she told WBZ-TV.

She pointed out the “From Trash to Treasure” bench, which Pierce says “reflects our values of sustainability.”

The bench along the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail was created by local artist Yin Peet. It’s made out of two bikes found at the Acton Recycling Center.

The “From Trash to Treasure” bench in Acton.

CBS Boston

“Acton just created a bike path so when I went to the recycle center surely there were enough bikes around,” said Peet. “The town gave me this opportunity to create a bench [and] this project is totally simply fun.”

The bench even has some functional elements. The old wheels and gears actually spin.

“You can see this is a small antique bike,” explained Peet. “My most pride is I actually kept it moving.”

The bench also sits in front of a locally run bike shop, Pedal Power Bike & Ski, bringing attention to the small business.

“It gives people more reasons to stop and enjoy the art, enjoy the businesses, and restaurants and shops in the area,” said Pierce.

And just down the road, in front of El Huipil Mexican Cocina, sits another piece of Acton’s Public Art Initiative, the Unity Bench.

It was created by local artist Sunanda Sahay. Using bright colors and Indian folk art, the bench is meant to highlight every culture within the town.

“My thought was that if we know more about each other’s cultures, we will be more tolerant, we will understand each other more,” said Sahay. “They will all see themselves in that bench somewhere.”

But the project is not just limited to benches and sculptures.

“We have a mural in Kelly’s Corner which shows Acton throughout history,” said Pierce.

The initiative is grant-funded through the Massachusetts Office of Business Development (MOBD) via the 495MW Partnership and through the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), as well as Acton residents and technical help from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).

The project also includes free workshops for artists, a potential live art event, two more planned murals, and additional pieces of public art in the future.

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