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Local

Park District Dish: Bulldog statues to be let loose in Batavia

Auction to be held Sept. 15

Thomas Melvin created a bulldog for the Batavia Public Library.
Thomas Melvin created a bulldog for the Batavia Public Library.

One of the best aspects of working at the Park District is that I get to live out my passions daily. Whether it’s giving back to the community, helping preserve green space or encouraging others to try something new, every day brings a facet of rewarding challenges.

Heading the marketing department also provides me the opportunity to be a part of creative projects, not only with the Park District but with other local organizations.

This past spring, I had the chance to live out another one of my passions through painting one of the foster bulldog statues as part of the Bulldogs Unleashed public art fundraising campaign.

The Bulldogs Unleashed campaign is a collaboration between the Batavia Parks Foundation, Batavia Public Library Foundation, and the Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence. The group commissioned local artists to paint a new set of bulldog statues to be unleashed throughout Batavia this summer and to be auctioned off this fall in an effort to raise funds for community initiatives. 

The collaborative spirit in Batavia is the real inspiration behind this campaign.

I found this to be true within my own experience painting “Foodie Dog” that began with crowd-sourcing content by asking Batavians what their favorite foods were through the popular Facebook community group pages. The response was amazing, and it was exciting to bring the public’s opinion into the final concept. Similarly, each bulldog design theme is a joint effort between the artist and organization, committee or business.

I recently spoke with my counterpart at the city of Batavia, Chris Cudworth, who had the honor of painting two bulldog statues, “Both Sides Now” bulldog for the City of Batavia and “Lights over Batavia” bulldog for the Batavia High School. I asked Chris what his favorite part of the project was, especially from the viewpoint as both an artist and being the city’s communications coordinator.

“The public service component of this project is important because you know the back end is for a really good cause. It’s also an opportunity to do something artistically that many people will have a chance to see. That’s fun and a significant inspiration.

“To me, this a chance to do something both playful and meaningful at the same time,” Chris said. “I wanted to create something that everyone from little kids to seniors would appreciate in their own way. And I wanted to honor the hard work the organizers put into this project. And unleash a little creativity at the same time.”

The Park District teamed up with local artist Joshua Schultz to commission the “Bruce the Spruce” bulldog that will be permanently displayed at the Eastside Community Center. The design theme highlights Batavia’s natural areas such as the Fox River and features native species found in our local parks.

The bulldog statues will be on display throughout town, from early June through Labor Day, and conclude with a live auction Sept. 15 at Shannon Hall, 14 North Van Buren St., Batavia.

For information about the Bulldogs Unleashed public art exhibit, visit bulldogsunleashed.org.

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