HAYWARD -- Terry Hunt's benches start out the same: They're the heavy and simple concrete castings of the sort you'll find outside any public venue.
They were made for tank-like durability -- after all, they must be able to withstand the rigors of day-after-day public use and abuse, and as such, weren't created with a great deal of concern for aesthetics.
But then they get a makeover.
Hunt smears on mastic adhesive and brings out his boxes of tiles in all sizes and colors. After some planning and jigsaw-puzzle-like placing, a theme will take shape -- nearby hiking trails, Sulphur Creek Nature Center, the old and new city halls of Hayward.
"We tried to keep things sort of local to Hayward," said Hayward neighborhood partnership manager Stacey Sorensen. "Parks, the service history of Hayward. He did really well on the blues festival bench, and a lot of them were his own ideas."
Hunt said one of his favorites is in front of the downtown Hayward BART station. It's a word-based mosaic that represents the city's history.
"It starts with the Ohlones, then goes into Spanish missions and ranchos," Hunt said. "Then the 49ers, William Hayward's first hotel, then finally the actual town of Hayward."
There's a fishing-themed bench in front of St. Rose Hospital, and one in honor of Cinco de Mayo at the Food Source on Mission Boulevard. Other benches can be found at Southland mall, Castro Valley BART and the San Lorenzo Library.
Five more will be placed at the Day Labor Center on Tennyson Road, the Fairway Park greenway, a Soto Road bus stop and the Japanese Gardens.
Hunt, who is a longtime potter, said the colorful tile benches were "a departure" from his normal work.
"The pots are very functional, something I sell at some of the street fairs," he said.
The benches are funded through the city's Mural Arts Program, which is aimed at deterring graffiti and vandalism by beautifying public spots. The program also has funded many of the new murals on walls and utility boxes, many in the downtown area.