Seven years ago, public art displays in Mount Pleasant paled in comparison to today.
Now, streetlights and road signs serve as a canvas to the artistic expression of community members just off CMU’s campus.
The 2013 Festival of Banners, hosted by Art Reach of Mid-Michigan, is a celebration of art and expression in a public forum.
Art Reach Executive Director Kathy Hill said the Festival of Banners is one of the most successful programs the center runs all year.
“We have received so much positive feedback over the years,” she said. “Right from day one, we knew it was a good project. We have had tremendous support from the community and the university, so that makes this that much more rewarding.”
For $25, Mount Pleasant residents could draw or paint a 5-foot picture, displaying their artistic expression.
In January, Art Reach sent an invitation to participate in the event to its approximately 3,000-person-long mailing list.
On the form, a space was provided for individuals to draw what they would like their banner to look like.
Art Reach personnel then traced the drawings (nearly 500 strong this year) on a small sheet of paper. Using resources donated by Central Michigan University, the image is enlarged to a five-foot canvas.
Then, the Art Reach patrons paint the picture and provide unique decorations for downtown Mount Pleasant.
Helen Chase owns Trillium clothing and said she sees “nothing but good” about the tradition in the making.
“It promotes art in our community, and visually it looks pretty,” Chase said. “The nice thing is that it encourages participation. Businesses can sponsor the program, so there is a financial support aspect to it as well.”
One of the program’s major sponsors since its inaugural year has been the downtown branch of Isabella Bank.
Mary Olivieri, the community relations director for Isabella Bank, said they are always willing to jump at the chance for taking part in the community.
“Whenever we are approached to sponsor anything that has anything to do with the community, we want to do whatever we can to help,” Olivieri said. “We really try to promote the downtown area because if more people come down for this program, more people know (the bank) is down here, too.”
The banners are scheduled to be taken down this week as winter weather approaches, but Hill said this year was the program’s most successful year to date.
“We were absolutely blown away by the overwhelming response we received from the community this year,” she said. “This is something we will continue to work on, and hopefully it will only get bigger and better as time goes on.”