On a recent visit to Winchester, Virginia, Costanza Knight saw the light behind the light. Strolling downtown, she noticed the lampposts lining Main Street.
Banners hung from the posts didn’t express generalities — “Welcome” or “Season’s Greetings.” Instead, they featured vibrant artwork, each flag printed with a different image.
“I thought, ‘Wow, this is wonderful,’” recalls Knight, a Hendersonville-based painter. She knew she wanted to do something similar in her own town. Before leaving Virginia, she stopped by the Shenandoah Arts Council, which commissioned the banners, for advice.
Back home, she approached the City of Hendersonville’s Community Character Team, Hendersonville City Council, and the Hendersonville Historic Preservation Commission. Next, she obtained a startup grant from the Community Foundation of Henderson County and assembled a strong corps of volunteers. “There was intense cooperation,” says Hendersonville painter Miriam Hughes — known for her canine portraits — who led the PR effort. Hughes talks about the “research, hard work, and time” invested — as well as the “true excitement and joy” surrounding the project.
Eighty-six regional artists applied to have their work, in banner form, hung on historic lampposts — along Main Street, side streets, and 7th Avenue: more than 300 images were submitted. A juror from Greenville selected 40 artists, including mixed-media maker Sandee Setliff.
“I’ve had works in shows … I’ve had works in magazines,” Setliff notes. But she says she’s never been a part of anything like this.
Setliff sees it as novel way to get her work out there. And that was part of Knight’s idea: “Adult working artists need showcases in Henderson County,” she says.
Setliff’s painting “Balance,” showing stacked rocks in a creek, is for sale, as are the other 39 original pieces: works will be on display for two weeks, beginning April 7 at Art MoB and Art on 4th.
“Balance,” says Setliff, is her emotional response to the current divisive political climate. She hopes those who see her painting will think personally about “what kind balance they’re trying to achieve.”
Knight, too, wants viewers to connect with the selected works — but with a broader trajectory. The goal of the banner initiative, she says, is an outdoor gallery meant for all: “for residents, for tourists, and for children who maybe don’t get to go into a museum or an art gallery.”
The ArtScape Hendersonville exhibit opens Friday, April 7, with receptions at two galleries: Art MoB (124 4th Ave. East) and Art on 4th (125 4th Ave. West). 5-7:30 pm. Banners will hang downtown through the end of the year. For more information, see the Facebook page or call the galleries: 828-693-4545, 828-393-5755.