High-flying art readied for Nye Beach | Arts & Entertainment

The Nye Beach Banner Project is beginning its 14th year of 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 of ​​a banner project came from a discussion about how we as merchants could have Nye Beach recognized as an area for people to visit,” said project organizer and Nye Beach Merchants Association member Veronica Lundell. The idea of ​​hanging commercial banners came up, but Lundell did not think that spoke to the atmosphere of Nye Beach.

Because she sews and paints and had tarps at home, she came up with the idea of ​​handmade banners and created two prototypes.

“Everyone liked the idea,” she recalled. And thus the Nye Beach Banner Project was born.

“So many people make this project happen every year, and contribute to its success,” said Lundell, who owns Jovi, a furniture, arts and craft shop 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 are picked up by participating artists, who paint them and bring them back to Jovi. Lundell then clear coats, grommets, photographs and hangs them.

When the banners are all in, Lundell hangs the art on the neighborhood’s decorative light poles.

She will start to hang the banners in early June, beginning 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 at the turnaround.

The banners, which are 2 feet by 3-1/2 feet in size, are created from heavy-duty cotton paint tarps, recycled house paint, grommets, poly clear coat and rope — “everything out-of-pocket or donated,” Lundell said, noting that donations are welcome.

In November, when the time comes to remove the banners, a gala kick-off party is held — scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 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 a week or so later, Lundell said. Money raised from the auction goes to support local visual arts education for youth.

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 canvases to Japan,” Lundell explained. “They paint them and then keep four to display, and return the other four to us to display and auction. And we send four of our finished banners for them to keep.

The Nye Beach collection also includes three or four banners painted by students in youth art classes, with collaborative groupings put together to make full-size banners.

“The idea of ​​the project is to bring attention to Nye Beach — we have writers, artists, artisans, the visual arts center, the performing arts center, all in this area,” Lundell said. “As a merchant here, I view this as not only identification of a neighborhood but a way of showing our appreciation for how hard everyone works to have art here. And everyone’s time is donated.”

While the original banner theme celebrates the arts in Nye Beach, during the year of the solar eclipse, that 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 goal of identifying Nye Beach as the arts focal point for Newport. This year, Lundell chose sunflowers for the additional theme, to honor the people of Ukraine and their struggles. The theme highlights the colors of the Ukrainian flag — yellow at the bottom, symbolic of fields of wheat and hope for the future, and blue at the top, representing a calm sky.

Lundell said she was surprised to learn about the symbolism of sunflowers, the Ukrainian 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.

“Everybody has loved this additional theme,” she said, noting many have been inspired by it in their banner art.

“Sunflowers turn and face the sun,” Lundell said. “They literally look to the bright side!”

She said many artists create a banner each year. Local artist Jill Pridgeon has contributed banners to the project for about six years, and this year’s Ukraine theme caught her attention right away, coincidentally as she was sprouting sunflowers at home.

“A lot of times with a project, I don’t know what I am going to paint,” Pridgeon said. “But this one came pretty quick. I’ve been really disturbed by this war. We’ve lived through Vietnam and the worries about nuclear bombs. And I’m from the Midwest, and remember the acres and acres of yellow fields.

“Once I got into painting this, it was exhausting, but also exciting and invigorating,” she added. “It’s about fairness and courage. I spent a week painting it, and it was a wonderful experience.”

Pridgeon added that she had not made art for a while, and the banner jump-started her back in that direction. “I’m grateful for that,” she said. “It’s nice to do art about something I care about.”

Her image features a Ukrainian woman complete with babushka, a field of sunflowers, a tank with the Ukrainian flag, and a girl placing a flower in the gun barrel of the tank, reminiscent of scenes from Kent State in 1970. The back of her banner is inspired by Ukraine’s national anthem.

“Every year people say that when the banners go up, it’s one of their favorite times,” Lundell said. “It’s inspired other communities to do something similar. It’s a public art installation that people really enjoy. And the idea is for people to 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.

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