Benchmark is a community arts project initiated by Blackbird Arts in May of 2012 in collaboration with the Downtown Development Authority in Traverse City. The project partners individual schools and/or community groups with a professional artist and a local writer, to design, develop and create art benches using existing downtown benches. Our goal is to keep high quality arts in the school and provide a six-week artist residency in schools to teach students a variety of art techniques and allow them to learn from professional artists and writers. 

 In August of 2012, Blackbird Arts, artist Glenn Wolff, writer Jerry Dennis and students from the Greenspire School unveiled the first bench pilot. Thanks to generous sponsors, four benches have undergone transformation and have been turned into beautiful, functional art for our community! 

Bench #1 / Location: Outside Brew on Front Street in Traverse City, MI

School: The Greenspire School

Artist: Glenn Wolff

Writer: Jerry Dennis / The Living Great Lakes

Donor/Sponsor: Rusty Warren

Bench #2

East Middle School - Ms. Laird's Classroom

Artist: Marcia Borell

Writer: Cari Noga - The Plovers 

Sponsor/Donor: The Aline Underhill Orten Foundation 

facilitated by Artists Creating Together. 


If you are a business or individual interested in sponsoring a bench, please contact or call her at (231) 421-8085. 



Bench #3

Adult Work Center -  Lynn Baumann’s classroom

Artist: Elizabeth Clark and mentor Marcia Borell

Author: Bill O. Smith

Sponsors/Donors: ACT-GT, Exit Realty Paramount, Handicapped Committee of Rotary Charities, and the GT Regional Community Foundation.




Blackbird Arts   |   1485 Barlow Street Traverse City, MI   |   (231)421-8085    |    Drop us a note at