The Nye Beach Banner Project is entering its 14th year celebrating the neighborhood as the heart of the arts in Newport. And this year, it also carries a special message of hope for the people of Ukraine.
“The idea for a banner project was born out of a discussion about how we as marketers could get Nye Beach recognized as an area to visit,” said Veronica Lundell, project organizer and member of the Nye Beach Merchants Association. The idea of hanging commercial banners came up, but Lundell didn’t think it spoke to the atmosphere of Nye Beach.
Because she sews and paints and had tarps at home, she came up with the idea for handmade banners and created two prototypes.
“Everyone liked the idea,” she recalls. And so the Nye Beach Banner project was born.
“So many people make this project a reality every year and contribute to its success,” said Lundell, owner of Jovi, a furniture, arts and crafts boutique in the heart of Nye Beach at 232 NW Coast St. , Suite B. Lundell gets together with a group of women to sew the banners, which are then prepared for painting and collected by the participating artists, who paint them and bring them back to Jovi. Lundell then cleans coats, eyelets, photographs and hangs them.
When the banners are all up, Lundell hangs the art on decorative lampposts around the neighborhood.
She will begin hanging the banners in early June, starting at the intersection of Coast and Olive streets, then heading north through the Nye Beach neighborhood on Cliff, Coast and Third streets, as well as around the bend.
The banners, which measure 2 feet by 3-1/2 feet, are created from heavy-duty cotton paint tarps, recycled house paint, grommets, a clear poly coat, and rope – “Anything disbursed or donated,” Lundell said, noting that donations are welcome.
In November, when it comes time to take down the banners, a launch gala is held — scheduled for Saturday, November 5 this year — with the banners on display on the second floor of the Newport Visual Arts Center. An online auction of the banners ends about a week later, Lundell said. Money raised from the auction goes to support local visual arts education for young people.
A final piece of the project is a booklet that accompanies the auction and includes a brief statement from each banner artist. Sara Heimlich is coordinating the booklets, which will be on sale at the party and auction.
The project includes 40 or 45 banners, four of which will be created and will remain in Mombetsu, Japan, Newport’s Sister City. The Mombetsu banner link is in its third year.
“We send eight prepared banner cloths to Japan,” Lundell explained. “They paint them, then keep four for display and send the other four back to us for display and auction. And we send them four of our finished banners to keep.
The Nye Beach collection also includes three or four banners painted by students in youth art classes, with collaborative groupings set up to create life-size banners.
“The idea of the project is to bring attention to Nye Beach – we have writers, artists, artisans, the visual arts centre, the performing arts centre, all in this area,” said Lundel. “As a trader here, I view this not just as identification of a neighborhood, but as a way to show our appreciation for how hard everyone works to have art here. And everyone’s time is given.
While the original banner theme celebrates the arts at Nye Beach, during the year of the solar eclipse, this event was chosen as an additional theme, an idea that was well received.
Now each year the main theme continues to highlight the arts, both performing and visual, with the aim of identifying Nye Beach as the arts focal point for Newport. This year, Lundell chose sunflowers as an additional theme, to honor the people of Ukraine and their struggles. The theme showcases the colors of the Ukrainian flag – yellow at the bottom, symbolizing wheat fields and hope for the future, and blue at the top, representing calm skies.
Lundell said she was surprised to learn of the symbolism of sunflowers, Ukraine’s national flower, in light of today’s events. Found in many different cultures, sunflowers symbolize happiness, honesty, admiration, unwavering devotion, optimism, longevity and peace, she said.
“Everyone loved that extra theme,” she said, noting that many drew inspiration from it in their banners.
“Sunflowers turn and face the sun,” Lundell said. “They are literally looking on the bright side!”
She said that many artists create a banner every year. Local artist Jill Pridgeon has provided banners for the project for about six years, and this year’s Ukraine theme immediately caught her eye, coincidentally as she was sprouting sunflowers in her home.
“A lot of times with a project, I don’t know what I’m going to paint,” Pridgeon said. “But this one came pretty quickly. I was really disturbed by this war. We lived through Vietnam and the worries about nuclear bombs. And I’m from the Midwest, and I remember acres and acres of yellow fields.
“Once I started painting this, it was exhausting, but also exciting and invigorating,” she added. “It’s a matter of fairness and courage. I spent a week painting it and it was a wonderful experience.
Pridgeon added that she hadn’t done art in a while, and the banner pointed her in that direction. “I’m grateful to you,” she said. “It’s good to make art on something that is close to my heart.”
Her image depicts a Ukrainian woman with a babushka, a field of sunflowers, a tank with the Ukrainian flag, and a girl placing a flower in the barrel of the tank, reminiscent of scenes from Kent State in 1970. The back of her banner inspired by the national anthem of Ukraine.
“Every year people say when the banners are unfurled it’s one of their favorite times,” Lundell said. “It inspired other communities to do something similar. It’s a public art installation that people really appreciate. And the idea is that people discover Nye Beach.
Look for this year’s Nye Beach Banners starting the first week of June. To donate to the project, contact Lundell at Jovi or leave a note for the project at the Visual Arts Center.