NIAD Art Center wins grant to beautify Richmond bus benches


The NIAD Art Center has won a $12,000 grant to partner with well-known artist Ellen Lake to transform 60 underutilized ad spaces on bus benches into artworks.

The Richmond-based art center, which serves artists with disabilities, won the award from the California Arts Council, which is doling out $1.7 million in grants to nonprofit organizations for projects statewide.

“With support from the California Arts Council, NIAD will work with artist Ellen Lake on Bench Projects, a site-specific public art project transforming 60 under-utilized bench ads throughout the City of Richmond into bus bench galleries featuring print-based artwork that engages new audiences and activates public space,” according to the language provided in the grant award document.

The Richmond-based NIAD Center, which serves artists with disabilities, celebrated the award on social media.

Lake has accomplished similar projects at AC Transit bus stops in Oakland, with much success. She started Bench Projects after seeing “Advertise Here” advertisements on neighborhood benches. For benches that never seem to receive ads, she has commissioned local artists to brighten the spaces with their works.

“I will be working with NIAD artists to translate their images and new work that we create through workshops onto the bus benches in Richmond,” Lake told us. “We’ll be celebrating their artistic talents and making their work accessible to the public, activating public space through bus bench galleries.”

The image above, posted by the city of Oakland, shows artwork on an Oakland bus stop by Lori Fischer; the image below shows work by Ronnie Sampson. Both are local residents where the artwork was displayed.