Rave reviews for Banner ArtWalk at MOWA

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The 4th annual Banner ArtWalk was a huge draw at the Museum of Wisconsin Art on Saturday.

Fifty hand-painted banners hung from the second-floor railing in the atrium entrance of museum.

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Artist and banner organizer Chris Porter said the idea started as a way to help beautify the downtown.

“We didn’t have the money for flower baskets and it was a good way to take old Christmas banners and repaint them,” she said.

“The first year we learned a lot, the second year we learned more, and from year to year it’s getting better; we have a lot of talent here and I’d love to see it continue forever and ever.”

Downtown West Bend Association event manager Kellie Boone organized the ArtWalk. She said the banners on N. Main Street are so popular, the community of Minocqua called and asked if they could copy the idea.

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Many visitors to the event felt the banners helped tie the businesses to the community.

Daniel Kindler bid on the West Bend Theatre banner. “I used to work there and my father was a projectionist there so there are a lot of memories,” he said.

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Kindler started work at the theatre when he was 16. “I had my first date there in 1975,” he said. “We saw Towering Inferno; the movie didn’t go over well and neither did the date.”

Van Cline was in town from St. Paul, Minnesota and he too found a local tie in the banners. “This is really unique and there’s a Dunn Brother’s banner,” he said. “The original one is in St. Paul.”

The 2016 banners hung along the second-floor railing. Those entering MOWA were able to explore the museum free of charge and get an up-close look at the artwork.

“They’re beautiful and unique and everyone has its own little story,” said Jan Nesladek of West Bend.

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“I was surprised at the quality of some of the work because it’s very good and widely varied,” said Bob Bergstrom of West Bend.

“It beautifies our downtown and it gets people to go downtown,” said Grace Wright. “I give Chris Porter a lot of credit this had to be a huge project.”

“I’m really impressed with the artwork and especially the fact there are a lot of students involved,” said Carol Casadonte, formerly of Tomahawk.

This was the first time banners from previous years were auctioned off. Money raised will go to support the banner ArtWalk project.

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