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Painted Benches Mark Vienna Arts Society’s 50th Anniversary

The colorful, painted benches that recently popped up outside local businesses in the Town of Vienna are marking the 50th anniversary of the Vienna Arts Society.

Purcellville’s painted wine barrel community arts project in 2016 inspired the idea for the “Take a Seat Vienna” public art display, Lu Cousins, the director of the Vienna Arts Society, told Tysons Reporter.

Local businesses sponsored the cost of the Amish-built benches, which each had a roughly $240 price tag, in exchange for having them sit in front of their businesses through October, Cousins said.

Volunteers delivered the benches to 42 artists, 20 of whom are from the greater Vienna area. “Painting a wooden, slatted bench is completely different from painting an image on a canvas,” Cousins said, adding that the shape and angles of a bench can be tricky to paint.

In addition to the artists, Cousins gave a shoutout to the team of nonartists who helped facilitate transportation of the benches and get permits from the town.

Before their unveiling last weekend, the benches were varnished to help them withstand the weather, she said. The Vienna Arts Society has a map for people who want to take a seat in — or a photo of — all 42 benches.

“They are spectacular works of art,” Cousins said, adding that her personal favorites include Susan Scanlon’s “Simply Dreaming” bench, which features actress Audrey Hepburn in her iconic “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” role, and the ones with ocean imagery.

A live auction of the benches on Nov. 2 will raise money for the arts nonprofit’s programs.

“They are all beautiful, and they are all unique,” Cousins said. “We want people to enjoy their community.”

Photos courtesy Vienna Arts Society

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