St. Michaels Banner Program a Community Effort

While much of life is still not back to normal, one cheering tradition in St. Michaels still carries on. When the banners fly on Talbot Street, normally it’s one of the first signs that the St. Michaels community will soon be entering the full swing of summer recreation that brings thousands of tourists to this charming harbor town.

“Sunset Over Maritime Museum,” by Walter Urbanek

From one end of Talbot Street to the other, colorful banners delight visitors and residents with depictions of iconic boating scenes, crabs, local wildlife, and all the summer fun for which St. Michaels is so well known. The banners are now up for all to admire.

This annual event, now in its 12th year, is made possible through the support of many individuals, businesses, and organizations. The banner artwork is created by members of the St. Michaels Art League (SMAL), but that is just the beginning.

The collaboration kicks off early in winter as SMAL artists create paintings in various media in the required banner format. Then the painted images go into production. Kevin Snelling, proprietor of Creative XPressions, scans the paintings and sends them to Sharper Graphics, located in Easton, where Bob Porter produces the banners. Price’s Yacht Canvas Shop in St. Michaels then sews the banners back to back, readying them for hanging on Talbot utility poles. Finally, Curtis Short and his crew from Choptank Electric Cooperative hang the colorful banners in April, just as springtime emerges.

Kevin Snelling, in St. Michaels, continues his support of SMAL artists by offering poster versions in his Talbot Street shop. Tourists and art patrons can purchase dramatic art pieces for modest prices. A portion of sales is returned to the artist and the Art League. Many of the images are the products of award-winning artists.

In normal times, SMAL displays the original artwork from which the banner images are created at the Talbot County Free Library in St. Michaels and awards are presented for best graphic image and best fine art. However, this year the event is on hold until further notice. Meanwhile, view the banners on the SMAL website at smartleague.org.

The Talbot County Arts Council, with funds provided by the Maryland State Arts Council, assists with partial funding for many of the League’s community-oriented events including the banners. Support from the councils also helps students from local schools participate in the banner program. This year’s grant covered the cost to produce three banners from AP art students at St. Michaels Middle High School. Under the tutelage of their teacher, Bridget Whited, artwork by Georgia Kline, Elizabeth Scharch, and Kaila Regan is featured along with SMAL artists.

While the Art League’s mission is to enhance the appreciation of art and members’ artistic professionalism, the town continues to benefit from the economic promotion that a lively arts scene engenders. The banners are taken down in November, just a few short months before the process begins anew.

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