An “outdoor art gallery” returns to downtown West Bend in May and, as is oft said, it will be bigger and better then ever.
That’s when the Artwalk Banner Art Program, sponsored by the Downtown West Bend Association, will debut hand-painted banners displayed on downtown street lamps for a second summer.
There were 59 banners painted by 35 artists from around southeast Wisconsin last year, downtown resident Chris Porter said. She organized the first Downtown Artwalk banner art display. All of the banners will be new this year, Porter said.
“She handled everything,” Boone said of Porter. “She deserves all the credit. Chris did a ton of work on it.”
Porter pulled together the first Artwalk in relatively short notice to fill the gap when the D W B A decided it could no longer hang flower baskets from the light posts each s u m m e r, Boone said. “The cost was prohibitive.”
Porter used a set of old banners and asked artists to create paintings on them. They turned in a colorful collection of landscapes, still lifes, portraits, abstracts, poster art and wildlife paintings that decorated Main Street and Sixth Avenue downtown for five months.
This year, artists, many of whom are volunteering for a second time, had new banners to work with. “They’re going to look so much better,” Boone said. Local artists, professional artists and student artists are providing banner art work, Porter said.
“We always have a handful of art students from the (West Bend) high schools,” Porter said. “ARTcycle is doing another banner for us.” ARTcycle, 351 S. Main St., West Bend, provides art programs for people with disabilities.
“It’s really an outdoor art gallery. That’s what I call it,” Porter said. “These are original art pieces. I just think it brings a little art and culture to the downtown.”
“People loved it,” Boone said. An example of that, she said, last summer she met a women in a downtown store who was looking for something to do with her grandchildren for the day. Boone explained what the Artwalk was about. “They stuck around for hours downtown. That’s what I think the Artwalk can do for the downtown. It’s something to make the downtown look festive for the summer.”
Last year, the debut of the Artwalk was rather low-key, Boone said. “We’re going to make a big deal of it this year.”
The DWBA plans an Artwalk opening event with a band, food and drink vendors, and banner artists who will sell their artwork. Brochures detailing each work and information on the artists will be available at local businesses and cultural centers, Boone said.
New this year, there will be four categories judged and prizes awarded May 17, Porter said. “I talked to so many artists this year,” Porter said. “There was a lot of interest. Next year, I’ll have to start sending out invitations in January.”
For more information, contact Boone, 338-3909 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Porter at 339-7392. The Downtown West Bend Association, 215 N. Main St., Suite 109, website is www.downtownwestbend. com.