Creating city banners

Creations by Lakeview art students displayed over the streets of Cottonwood

Photo by Karin Elton New banners adorn the downtown area of Cottonwood. Above, Bailey Harrigan and Cayden Caron are two of the Lakeview art students who created banners for the city of Cottonwood.

Some kids have artwork tacked to refrigerator doors. Eleven Lakeview art students have their creations displayed on city lamp posts.

The city of Cottonwood has new banners on downtown streets courtesy of John Sterner’s art class. The students were given free rein on the composition of the banners — as long as they were colorful.

“I wanted a pop of color against the white winter background,” said Cottonwood City Clerk-Administrator Teather Bliss.

When Randy Fenger of the public works department informed Bliss the existing city banners were getting raggedy, she knew they would have to be replaced.

“Randy said the banners were starting to tear and were in rough shape,” she said.

“I thought, ‘what can we do?’ and I had remembered that the art students had painted and designed the parking spaces at Lakeview School,” Bliss said.

She then contacted art teacher John Sterner and posed the idea of art students designing banners. It was perfect timing — he was ready for another project for his students to tackle.

“I left it up to John,” she said, as to what he wanted his class to do. “We originally thought they were going to do a bunch of them and we were going to select a couple, but then we wanted a different one on each side of the banner. So I told John, ‘we want all of them.'”

Businesses and community members sponsor a banner to help pay for the costs — either one side or double-side.

Businesses choose what they want on the banner, Bliss said. “Some have ‘in memory of’ or the family name or logos.”

Sterner said 11 students worked on the banners.

Initially the reaction to doing the banners was mixed.

“Some said ‘why do we have to do this?’ and some were really excited about it,” he said.

Sterner guided them through the process.

“I talked about how there needed to be a sense of design to the whole thing, a graphic quality to them,” he said. “I told them these are going to be viewed by the public.”

If there was white space on the design, Sterner would ask them what more could be done to fill that space.

The students thought about “what makes Cottonwood Cottonwood,” Sterner said.

“We talked about North Star Insurance, Extreme Panel, the golf course, the lake — a lot of people use the lake to fish, boat, jet ski, use the beach for volleyball — we thought about how to incorporate all that into the work,” Sterner said.

The students used colored pencils called art sticks, and heavy paper. They submitted four ideas.

“We had a patron to cover the costs — James Kroger,” said Sterner. “He made a sizeable donation.”

After getting the designs from Sterner, Bliss brought them to Western Printing.

“They did an excellent job and they gave us a really good price,” she said. “Danielle (Ryer) did the design, font and layout.”

Ryer said fellow Western Printing employee Krisann Huso had a hand in the process as well.

“She designed the first one and I went off of that,” Ryer said.

Twenty-one banners have been installed in the downtown area so far, said Bliss.

“We have put up more than what we took down,” she said. “And these banners are cheaper.”

The banners say “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings.”

“They were planned to be winter banners,” she said. “In hindsight, I wish we hadn’t, but it’s OK.”

The banners, which will be up until Memorial Day, have been a hit.

“We had more banners sponsored than brackets so we have ordered more brackets to add to the light poles,” Bliss said.

The city of Cottonwood has a banner.

“It’s around the corner (from the city office),” Bliss said. “It has ‘fire and ambulance’ on one side. The Cottonwood ambulance crew is a husband and wife, John and Desiree Caron, whose son, Cayden Caron, designed it. His great-grandmother, Marge Seitz, lives upstairs (of the city office).”

The other side of the city of Cottonwood banner depicts a snow plow, drawn by Bailey Harrigan.

“That perfectly depicts winter in Cottonwood,” Bliss said.


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