32 ArtScape banners selected to hang on mall
Winchester — The Loudoun Street Mall is back to being one of the City of Winchester’s largest outdoor art galleries.
Reproductions of the works of 32 artists went on display Monday when the fifth annual ArtScape banner project was hung from lampposts on the mall, said Jennifer Bell, downtown manager.
The project, which is a joint effort between the Old Town Development Board and the Shenandoah Arts Council, is designed to highlight local artists while bringing a variety of new art into downtown, she said.
“It is all about how we experience the mall,” she said. “It is another way to say ‘stay and linger.’”
ArtScape underwent several modifications this year as a result of changes made during the renovation of the mall this spring, said Lauri Bridgeforth, OTDB chair.
A new, more compact design to the two-sided banners was adopted to fit shorter lampposts put in during the renovation, she said. The new design meant the artwork had to be cropped to fit the banner and the name of the artist and business that sponsored the piece were written sideways.
The changes were necessary to comply with an ordinance that said the bottom of hanging materials must be at least 8 feet off the ground. The change was about taking a problem and “making it a possibility,” she said.
“People have noticed, but I wouldn’t say anyone is complaining,” said Bridgeforth, of Winchester. “It is what we had to do to keep the project alive. Otherwise, we had to kill the project.”
The art is physically smaller and horizontal now instead of vertical, she said. However, it is closer to the ground, which makes it “more approachable.”
The smaller lampposts were put in because of complaints from residents on the mall that light from the old ones was shining into their homes, Bell said. The new lights shine down on the street “where people need it, not into people’s bedrooms.”
The turnout for this year’s ArtScape was excellent, with 22 of the 32 artists chosen new to the program, said Tracy Marlatt, SAC’s executive director. Eight of the artists were under the age of 18. There were also 14 new sponsors of the program.
First time participant Bonnie Lane of Frederick County submitted a colored pencil drawing called “Romancing the Sunflower” that she drew with ArtScape in mind. Her banner was sponsored by The Floor Shop.
Lane said she “pushed realism” to make the sunflowers look more like she wanted, with touches of red in the petals and nuances of blue in the leaves. “They don’t exist in nature, but it makes such a pretty picture.”
She was thrilled to see her banner up in front of Virginia National Bank and the exposure it will give her. “It is just a win-win situation.”
It is nice to have all of the banners on the mall this year, which is a change from previous years, said Don Black, of Winchester, who has participated in ArtScape since it started. In previous years, banners were also hung on Piccadilly and Boscawen streets.
Black’s entry this year, “Meteor Shower,” is a mixed media piece with acrylic paint, charcoal, Japanese paper and other elements. It depicts a scene reminiscent of a night sky with flashes of color in it, he said. The artist approaches art as he does playing jazz — “I just kind of see where it goes.”
Magic Lantern Theater sponsored Black’s banner. Coordinator Mark Lore said he chose the painting immediately upon seeing it because the colors “remind me of film.” He also likes the placement of the banner near Union Jack Restaurant and Pub.
“That’s nice because people can look up at it while they are eating a meal and just enjoy it,” said Lore of Winchester.
Gregory Milburn, 25, of Frederick County said he has never seen his name in print before, so having it displayed next to his painting, “The Dance,” an oil and enamel painting of a ballerina, on a banner has been amazing.
The only downside is that it is written sideways, as is his sponsor’s name, Bright Box Theatre, he said. He worried that if “people have to turn their head, they might not take the time to read it.”
Still, the young artist said it was an honor to be chosen so he could introduce his art and outlook on life to Winchester. The ballerina in his painting is a “metaphor for the delicate yet violent dance of life — the good and the bad.”
For those interested in a self-guided tour, a brochure of the banners, listing each artist and sponsor, is available at the Winchester-Frederick County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Rouss City Hall, the SAC gallery, and at various businesses on the mall.
The original 32 artworks will be sold as part of the SAC’s annual Jeans and Tonics fundraiser, which will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. June 15 at the gallery at 811 S. Loudoun St.
ArtScape banners will be displayed on the Loudoun Street Mall until December. For more information, call 540-667-5166 or go to shenarts.org.
— Contact Laura McFarland at email@example.com