West Chicago, Illinois: June 6, 2012 – There’s still time to take a stroll down Main Street, West Chicago to view some great works of public art. Winning banners from the 2012 Art Banner Contest sponsored by the West Chicago Cultural Arts Commission will be on display through the summer and offer a creative take on the theme, America – Who We Are. This is the fifth year that originally designed banners have adorned Main Street light poles. The juried project has generated interest from artists all around the Chicagoland area who submitted their designs for consideration. The resulting fifteen were turned into 30″ x 60″ street banners for the public’s enjoyment. Interpretations of the theme ranged from Here’s what some of the artists are saying about the inspirations behind their work:
- The American Bison, or as they are sometimes called buffalo, are as American as apple pie or the fourth of July. Bison once created habitat for prairie dogs, grassland birds and many plant species. They carried seeds and made paths that our early pioneers followed as they explored the west. My name is Steve Hughes, amateur photographer and resident of West Chicago for nearly twenty years. My interests include creative nature and landscape photography, taking many photos of local forest preserves and parks. This image of our American icon was taken at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), Batavia, Illinois, November 2011.
- Through this artwork, I advocate for immigration reform and the rights of immigrants “to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social and political life, of our diverse society.” (From the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights website www.icirr.org). The West Chicago Banner Exhibit call for entries on the theme, “We Are Americans,” was an invitation for me to add my voice to many others who advocate for the rights of American citizen children of undocumented immigrants. ~ Rachel Weaver Rivera
- The painting “Ricky” is based on some photos I took of him last September 11 at Reed-Keppler Park for the 10th anniversary memorial service for the 9/11 attacks. He was with the other scouts holding flags. It was a very serious moment for him. He was only 6 months old when we were attacked (on) 9/11, but he knows all about what happened. Now he is 11. He felt honored to be part of the event, however small. I was proud of him. You can see the solemn seriousness in his eyes, even a little sadness. After the memorial service he and I walked home quietly, reverently. When the project for the banners came up and I found out the theme was “America, Who We Are” I thought that image of him holding the flag was perfect. I left out any direct reference to the 9/11 memorial event because I wanted it to be more universal – a Webelo Cub Scout, proudly yet solemnly doing his duty to pay his respects. ~ Buddy Plumlee
- “Eats” gives us hot dogs, hot cars, hot summer nights, a carefree time of burgers, fries, and cool neon lights. It’s all American food served with a smile, plus frosty, cold root beer as tall as a mile!Here’s to your favorite American drive-in. If you ever stop in Frankfort, Michigan, you’ll find mine. ~ Kathy Steere
- I have vivid memories of fishing during the night with my Dad and siblings. Having a fire (light) attracts fish in close to the shore. Yes, this is how Farm Kids dressed back in the early 50’s, and life was hard. This was my first attempt to create a night scene. It was difficult to remember that the light source was coming up but still casting shadows on the ground. ~ James Schnaitman
- The ’55, ’56 & ’57 Chevys are classic American cars, and the fins on the back are such a recognizable trademark of these cars. I wanted to capture this classic and unique design feature. Chevy Nomads have been a part of my family since I was very young. My dad would race me and my brother with his matchbox Nomad (and never lost) when my brother and I were about 5 and 6 years old. In 1972, we moved to West Chicago in a 1955 Nomad. My dad sold that Nomad soon after and wished he hadn’t. When this 1957 Nomad became available in the early ‘80s, we convinced him to buy it. I got this car from him 11 years ago, got it on the road mid-summer last year, drove it until late fall, and continued to work on the finishing details through the winter. I just completed the full restoration this spring. I really like the look of the Nomad from this angle and all those classic styling features are readily visible. ~ Joseph Weibler
The best way to view all fifteen banners is in person, strolling down historic Main Street. The public is invited to vote for their favorite in a People’s Choice Award category. Ballots are available at City Hall, 475 Main Street; at Gallery 200, 200 Main Street; or at the City Museum, 132 Main Street. The deadline for voting is September 1, 2012 and the winner will be announced at a reception in the fall.