Banners on Parade
● By Style
Old Hangtown has a colorful past, but for the last 10 years local artists have been the ones bringing brightness to Main Street through Placerville’s Art on Parade.
Art on Parade is the brainchild of Barbara Holmes, who owned Hidden Passages Books on Main Street and is an artist. Inspired by public art projects in other cities, she created the Placerville Art on Parade Committee in 2005 to develop a public art display in Downtown Placerville. That same year, Wheelbarrows on Parade became the committee’s first exhibit. Inspired by John M. Studebaker, an entrepreneur in Placerville’s history who manufactured and sold wheelbarrows to miners, the exhibit featured 28 wheelbarrows elaborately painted by local artists.
In 2006, the committee highlighted winemaking with a display of 29 painted Wine Barrels on Parade. Although these public art projects were well received by the community, vandalism was a concern.
The following year, Paige Vansickle proposed moving from three-dimensional projects to two-dimensional banners. Her experience with a similar project in Sacramento convinced the committee to feature Banners on Parade in 2007. Local artists were asked to paint 30” x 60” canvas banners to be displayed on the light posts along Main Street, an approach that proved ideal for displaying local art while curtailing vandalism. For the past eight years, Banners on Parade has displayed 257 banners along Main Street.
Every February, the application for Banners on Parade is sent to those who have expressed interest and is also available on the Placerville Downtown Association’s (PDA) website. Anyone interested in painting a banner may submit an application and sketch of their proposed design. Artists are selected from juried applications and given six weeks to paint their banner. The submissions are judged by two local art professionals and first, second, third and honorable mentions are awarded in late May. The banners hang along Main Street from June until October.
During the first years of the program, about 50 to 75 percent of the banners were painted by returning artists. According to Bill Robinson, a longtime member of the Art on Parade committee, this trend is shifting and there are fewer returning artists. As the program continues to grow and gain attention, thanks in part to the marketing efforts of PDA’s Marketing Director Lisa Crummett, new artists are submitting their work and filling the gap.
Although the committee suggests a theme for the banners each year, artists are not required to paint in accordance with it; what’s more, banners may be created by individual artists, collaborating artists, or groups using the painting as a class project.
During the Art and Wine Festival (this year on October 18), the public may view banners up close and bid on them at a silent auction. Proceeds help fund Banners on Parade for the next year. Expenses for the program are paid through fund-raising, sponsor donations and the sale of items displaying images of the banners.
“People look forward to Banners on Parade,” says Robinson. “This year, the banners will be especially important to add color to Main Street since we won’t have the hanging flower baskets.”