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Maps point way to Bulldogs Unleashed

Public art project transforms streetscape

"Corn Dog" and "Champion" are two of the decorated Bulldogs Unleashed sculptures revealed during the Batavia Flag Day Ice Cream Social on June 10 at the Peg Bond Center before taking their places in town. The two statues were created by the artist team of Rebekah Axtell and Josh Schultz.
"Corn Dog" and "Champion" are two of the decorated Bulldogs Unleashed sculptures revealed during the Batavia Flag Day Ice Cream Social on June 10 at the Peg Bond Center before taking their places in town. The two statues were created by the artist team of Rebekah Axtell and Josh Schultz.

BATAVIA – The visual treat of Bulldogs Unleashed sculptures has transformed Batavia into an art gallery. Maps including a mobile app make finding the inventive works – both indoors and outdoors – a pleasurable summer pastime.

People can seek out 27 bulldogs standing 30 inches high, three towering at 44 inches and eight legacy bulldogs from the inaugural 2011 project, positioned outdoors around Batavia until Labor Day.

The event returns as a fundraiser for three community foundations. Project organizers note the canine subject adds artistic flourish to the Batavia High School bulldog mascot. The first Bulldogs Unleashed public art project raised $75,000 for the returning charity partners: Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence, Batavia Parks Foundation and the Batavia Public Library Foundation.

More than 30 local artists submitted designs to the Bulldogs Unleashed committee. Among them was a submission from an art teacher on behalf of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy’s Studio IMSA, whose students created what at first glance appears to be a colorful abstract called “Faces” – until one takes a closer look.

“Dozens of faces are embedded [in the design],” said Britta McKenna, volunteer marketing director for Bulldogs Unleashed. “IMSA really embraces diversity.”

After the summer display of Bulldogs concludes, the Bulldogs Unleashed committee will host an auction for the sculptures Sept. 15 at the Eastside Community Center. Auction tickets are available at

Some of the dogs already are promised to their sponsors, including one for Holy Cross Church and School in Batavia, McKenna said.

“Monsignor D” is the name of the church’s commission, honoring its late priest, Monsignor William Donovan.

The sculpture for him sports a cassock, clerical biretta cap and eyeglasses, and fittingly is placed near Batavia’s Wilson Street bridge which is named in his honor, McKenna said. It was painted by Anna Bakker.

Maps of the Bulldog locations, listing artists and sponsors, are available in Batavia at City Hall, the library and Park District and school district offices. Online location maps are available by visiting the city of Batavia website, which offers a link to the mobile app; using QR from a smartphone; or going to and zooming in to tour the canine collection.

People can share their photos at and follow the fun on Twitter and Instagram. The bulldogs are made of fiberglass, and should not be sat on.

Puppy showcase at fest

As part of Bulldogs Unleashed, a parade of puppies will be a highlight of Batavia’s Windmill City Fest from July 13 to 15. The tiny painted pooches will be kenneled at the City Hall council chambers and will compete for Best of Show titles, a news release stated. The dog show has two divisions: one for adults age 18 and older and one for children 17 and younger. The deadline to enter the competition is July 12.

Festival visitors can cast votes for their favorite. Each vote costs $1, with proceeds supporting the three Bulldogs Unleashed charities.

Businesses’ foster dogs

A raffle is underway for tabletop-size foster dogs on display at the following businesses, and a gift giveaway also is planned.

• K. Hollis Jewelers, 147 S. Randall Road: “Riverwalk Rover” by Rebecca Allen

• Funway, 1335 S. River St.: “PopArt Dog” by Lindsey Roussel

• Batavia Family Dental, 109 S. Batavia Ave.: “Liberty” by Sarah Engel

• Chapters Coffeehouse, 10 S. Batavia Ave.: “Foodie” by Katie Drum

• Beardsgaard Barbers, 117 S. Batavia Ave.: “Barbershop Dog” by Lindsey Roussel

• The Tea Tree, 29 N. River St.: “Champ” by Sharon Sychta

• J. DeCarlo Salon and Spa, 139 S. Batavia Ave.: “Prairie Dog” by Claire Sychta

• Kiss The Sky, 180 W. First St.: “Artie” by Joseph Gagnepain

• Urban Style Salon and Spa, 3 E. Wilson St.: “Night and Day” by Amanda Pijnappels

• All Spoked Up, 3 Webster St.: “Rex” by Joseph Gagnepain

Raffle tickets can be purchased at any of the participating businesses, at the Bulldogs Unleashed tent at the Batavia Farmers’ Market on the last Saturday of the month, at Windmill City Fest and online.

The 17-inch tabletop dogs will be raffled at the Sept. 15 auction event, but one need not be present to win. As an added promotion, one can pick up a passport at any of the 10 business locations, get it stamped at each site and enter a free drawing to win a Bulldogs basket.

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