Banner Up!

01 September 2017 Written by  By Michelle Lassle

Those who are fortu­nate enough to live in Brentwood know what an amazing city it is, and many visitors from other towns have come to the same conclusion.

In an effort to continue improving the city, a two-year strategic plan was set by City Council. One of the compo­nents under the Economic Development Plan is a citywide marketing campaign called Better in Brentwood. Under the Better in Brentwood marketing campaign umbrella is a citywide banner program. “The Banner Up! Program is one of the banner programs which falls under this umbrella and Banner Up! allows the city the opportu­nity to support the local arts,” said Peggy Berglund, Senior Analyst for the City of Brentwood’s Economic Development Division. “It helps draw residents and visitors to the downtown and allows them to see this beautiful community. I also think it adds a great pop of color to the downtown.”

The city initially introduced the Military/ Veteran Banner Program which paid tribute to 32 local active duty and veterans by placing their photos, names and military ranking on poles throughout Veteran’s Park. Along with the military/veteran banners, Peggy also suggested welcome banners at all major entry points to the city, sponsorship banners, and event banners be a part of the program. City Manager Gus Vina proposed also adding art banners to the project. “Gus explained that the city of Encinitas, where he was previously City Manager, has run a very successful annual art banner program which is coordinated by Danny Salzhandler through the 101 Artists’ Colony,” said Peggy.

“They display 101 banners along U.S. Route 101, all custom designed by local artists.” Peggy loved the idea and reached out to Danny to find out more about his program and how it was structured, as well as a long list of other questions. After speaking on the phone and exchanging emails, Danny agreed to travel up to Brentwood to present in front of the Arts Commission.

The Arts Commission’s goal is to act as an advisory committee to the City Council regarding the local arts; they help select and vet artists for public art projects and help recommend public art locations to the council. When they heard Danny’s presen­tation they were thrilled with the idea of incorporating something similar within Brentwood. Since the Arts Commission is only comprised of five members, they realized they didn’t have the staff to run the program, so Commissioner Rosalinda Grejsen decided to have it managed through the Art Guild of the Delta.

In April 2017, the Art Guild sent out a call for artists and received an enormous amount of interest. “I don’t think the Art Guild turned anyone away,” Peggy said. “Artists didn’t have to submit their artwork for approval or show a portfolio to be chosen.

They were able to just show up, take a 24” x 48” banner, paint it and bring it back.” Artists were given the general guidelines that the artwork could not be political in nature, and it needed to be community based and family-friendly. The decided medium was acrylic paint since it weathers nicely even without sealer, which tends to pose a problem with being too sticky when the banners are rolled up. Once the banners were picked up by the artists in April, they only had until June to design and submit their pieces. “It was a quick turnaround,” said Peggy. The Art Guild ended up with 68 banners from artists all around East County including Brent­wood, Discovery Bay, Oakley, Bethel Island, Antioch, Pittsburg, Rio Vista, and Danville. Of the 68 banners, 27 of them were painted by Art Guild of the Delta members, and the remaining pieces included artwork by high school students from Liberty High School’s Public Art and Design Academy and Los Medanos College students.

The banners were installed at the end of June, and they can be found in City Park and all down Oak, First, Chestnut, and Second Streets. Peggy was simultaneously working with designer Michelle Guerra to create decorative Better in Brentwood art banners that were placed on Second Street and Brentwood Boulevard as a notification of the program. “One of the most exciting things was when the banners started to come in, and I went over to Delta Gallery to see the first round. It was amazing; each one was a unique piece of art.” When a few more banners would turn up, Peggy would rush over to see the new masterpieces.

However, with her other duties filling up her schedule, Peggy wasn’t able to see every single one before they were hung which turned the installation process into a grand reveal. “Rosalinda and Mary brought the banners in boxes to be hung, but they were all rolled up,” Peggy said. “We didn’t know which one we were grabbing each time. They would unveil it, and I would gasp at every one. It was so much fun.” and any other downtown event has a chance to walk around and see the artwork.

“Brochures are available at the Community Center and City Hall for anyone to pick up so they can look at all of the banners and lead themselves on their own walking tour,” said Peggy. Photos of each banner and the names of the artists can also be found at www.artguildofthedelta.com.

After the banners are taken down, they will be cleaned and given back to the artists to touch them up, if need be, in order to put the renewed pieces on display inside of the Community Center for a grand Gala Recep­tion that will be held on September 29 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. There the banners will be auctioned off with a silent auction beginning in the weeks prior to the reception and final bids being accepted during the gala. A starting bid of $100 is required, and half of the proceeds will go back to the artists and the other half will be donated to The Brent­wood Library Foundation for public art installations in the new building. “The Brentwood Library Foundation is such a great match for this program,” said Mary Lamb, Co-Founder of the Art Guild of the Delta. “Banner Up! is public art at its best, and gala proceeds will be donated in support of public art that will be displayed in the new Brentwood Public Library.”

If bidding on a banner doesn’t suit your budget, every single banner will be dupli­cated into bookmarks to be sold at the gala, which proved to be a popular aspect of the Encinitas program. The Art Guild will also be purchasing wine from Bloomfield Vineyards, and the banners will be turned into sticker labels and placed on wine bottles. If you purchase a banner, you will receive one of the wine bottles, as well as the option to simply buy a bottle on its own. The Brentwood Downtown Coalition has also thrown their support behind the Art Guild of the Delta and the City of Brentwood in regards to the gala, hopefully resulting in the inclusion of downtown businesses and their culinary delights. “We’re looking forward to having as many people as we can at the gala. We welcome everyone!” said Peggy.

The Art Guild of the Delta has already secured funding for next year’s banner program through the City of Brentwood’s Economic Development Grant funds, so those artists who missed out on the first round will be given another shot. “There has been a wonderful swell of interest and enthusiasm from within the artistic community over this opportunity to have their work displayed in such a public way,” said Mary. “We have even received general inquiries from other communities and artists from outside the area who are interested in replicating the program.” A call for artists will go out in March 2018 to begin the process. Based on the overwhelming amount of interest that continued to show up even after this year’s deadline, the Banner Up! Program will happily need to expand into other parks and heavily traveled areas around Brentwood.

“The Art Guild has had people reach out asking if they could still get a piece of vinyl to paint on,” said Peggy. “So, we’re just going to have to find more light poles next year!” In addition to expanding the locations, appli­cants may also be asked to increase their artwork. The initial banners were one-sided, flipped every other light post so that viewers were able to see them regardless of the direc­tion they were walking or driving. In the future, the banners may be painted on both sides, expanding the artwork so that it cohesively flows onto the back.

Peggy is up for the challenge of expan­sion. “I’d love to see more banners. I hope this program continues and never stops, and that it keeps growing.” She would also love to see volunteers get involved and include more of the community in the process. The installation process proved to be long, even with hiring a company to place the banners. “It was Mary, Rosalinda and I who were out there all day handing the banners up one-by-one, trying to keep them rolled up and protected,” said Peggy. “It was time consuming and absolutely worth it, but volunteers would be greatly appreciated.” Those who don’t want to wait until next year and would like to help sooner are invited to offer their services for the Gala Reception at the end of the month. Contact Mary Lamb to find out how your skillset can be utilized.

If you haven’t already had a chance to view the stunning art banners downtown, make sure you pick up a brochure and take the walking tour before the banners are relocated for the Gala Reception. It’s the perfect opportunity to spend some time outdoors in beautiful Brentwood and support the local arts.

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