Mirror multimedia journalist Marissa Tiel paints a banner for the Campbell River Art Council’s Banner Project. The completed banners are getting hung around the community this week. Photo by Marissa Tiel – Campbell River Mirror

Column: a banner day for me in community art

Journalist adds her perspective to Campbell River art initiative — in more ways than one

The annual campaign to beautify Campbell River streets is underway.

Now we aren’t talking about landscaping. This project takes place above the street level. It’s that time of year when the Campbell River Art Council (CRAC)’s banners are getting installed.

For the last 20-or-so years, CRAC has been championing its Banner Project. Rather than having boilerplate banners waving over the community’s streets, the nonprofit art organization puts blank banners into the hands that best show Campbell River’s personality: its youth.

Normally the banners would be painted in classrooms, or through community paint sessions at Sybil Andrews’ Cottage, but this year, a pandemic-sized wrench was thrown into plans. Rather than skip a year, CRAC generously opened the project up to the community.

RELATED: Campbell River Arts Council’s Banner Project coming to a home near you

Executive Director Ken Blackburn thought families might need a little cheering up near the beginning of the pandemic.

“We’re all in this together. There’s no reason why we can’t continue to celebrate all of the good things and how the community comes together in a difficult time, but also the joy of family and trying to stay positive,” said Blackburn.

When we first talked, he was hoping for 50 banners. By the time the paint dried, and everyone submitted their finished masterpieces, they had more than 130.

Blackburn delivered all the supplies one would need to create the banner (minus paint brushes) including the paint, the banner and a tip sheet to make a successful piece:

1. Plan it out

2. Keep it simple, (stupid)

3. Paint both sides (the light shines through)

and 4. Be Bold

So on a grey day back in April, my doorbell rang. There was Blackburn, more than six metres away smiling and wishing me luck in painting this thing. It would end up being the largest piece of art I’d ever tackled and I racked my brain for ideas. Even as finished designs flowed in, I was starring at a blank sketchbook page. Then, slowly, I started drawing. My boyfriend talked me down from many complicated designs (see tip 1: Keep it simple). Finally, drawing inspiration from the quilters in my life, I settled on a traditional log cabin design. Narrow strips reduce in size as they approach the centre of the design, where a red square represents the fire of the home. The finished banner would be graphic, simple and bold. Perfect!

If you’re interested in watching the process, check out the video. It’s more interesting than watching paint dry, I swear!

This week, the City of Campbell River is starting the process of installing the banners. They’ll be in a few different locations around town: along the Tyee Spit, lining Shoppers’ Row and Spirit Square, along Pier Street, and in Willow Point.

Enjoy the outdoor art show and happy banner hunting!

Campbell River

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