Washougal Art & Music Festival

Nye Beach Banner Project goes international

The fundraiser for arts education includes work by artists in Newport's sister city of Mombetsu, Japan.

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Shigeru Yamai depicted the Yaquina Bay Bridge, with love from Mombetsu City, for the Nye Beach Banner Project.
Shigeru Yamai depicted the Yaquina Bay Bridge, with love from Mombetsu City, for the Nye Beach Banner Project.

Twelve years after a group of Nye Beach merchants sought to define their little neighborhood’s identity, the Nye Beach Banner Project has gone international.

This year’s banners include four from artists in Newport’s sister city of Mombetsu, Japan. After Mombetsu delegates visited Newport last year, banner project organizers were inspired to offer artists an additional option for the banner theme — traditionally meant to represent some aspect of Nye Beach.

“Many of the artists embraced that and did something representative of Mombetsu,” said Veronica Lundell, project coordinator. “Last year when the delegates came, they were given a tour and really enjoyed what we were doing.”

The banners hang from neighborhood lamp posts during the spring, summer, and early fall, before being taken down for the fall auction. The artists donate their time and talent, with auction proceeds benefiting youth arts education and public art through the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts.

Former Newport City Councilor Wendy Engler, who recently visited Mombetsu, came up with the idea for a banner exchange with the sister city. So this year, project organizers sent eight blank canvasses to Japan. Four painted by Mombetsu artists were returned, the other four stayed in Mombetsu for that city’s own display, to join four chosen from among those by Oregon artists.

“The idea was that Mombetsu would start their own project,” Lundell said. “But COVID has presented some challenges we could not have anticipated. How we proceed for next year is still to be decided. We hope to continue.”

Newport’s signpost is the subject of this banner by Japanese artists identified as Asuka, Yuka, Kurumi.
Newport’s signpost is the subject of this banner by Japanese artists identified as Asuka, Yuka, Kurumi.

The banners from Japan feature art representing Newport on one side and Mombetsu on the other. They include one of the Nye Beach signpost, listing the mileage and direction to Mombetsu, one of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, and another, a painting of the Yaquina Bay Bridge with the wording “With Love from Mombetsu City.”

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“They did a fabulous job,” Lundell said. “They sent us beautiful banners. We received theirs first and were very happy with the care and thought they put into it. But they also knew who the audience was. Our artists locally did not necessarily know their banners were going to Japan.”

Local students also participated in the project, as they have in past years. But as with many things, this year was different, with students working on a collaborative project.

Organizers sent fabric remnants to art instructors. The instructors created the outline of an image on a half dozen pieces, then sent the pieces to students, who were asked to fill in the outline on one side and create something of their own on the other. The pieces were then grommeted together to create one banner.   

A team of students made this banner for the Nye Beach Banner Project. Each student filled filled in the feather images on one of six swatches, then drew their own picture on the opposite side. The fabric pieces were then grommeted together to form the banner.
A team of students made this banner for the Nye Beach Banner Project. Each student filled in the feather images on one of six swatches, then drew their own picture on the opposite side. The fabric pieces were then grommeted together to form the banner.

“This project continues to evolve,” Lundell said. “New ideas continue to be generated. We started with just a few artists; we now have over 45 contributing artists, an art director who creates the booklet and maintains the Facebook page, and another volunteer who has made badges for the artists with their art and name on it.”

Lundell attributes the project’s success to the fact that it’s a public-art installation, but more importantly, that it supports the art community.

“Many artists expressed gratitude that it is continuing event through the pandemic,” she said. “It gave them something to focus on that they enjoy. The success is also because all of the proceeds go toward providing arts education for children. This year it seems more important than ever.”

The banners will be up for in-person viewing from noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 31, Nov. 4, and Nov. 7 in the recently reopened Newport Visual Arts Center. Bidding, however, will be done online only, starting at 10 a.m. Oct. 30 and ending at 7 p.m. Nov. 8. See the banners and register to bid here.  Winning bidders can pick up the banners at the Visual Arts Center or pay to have them shipped.

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This story is supported in part by a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust, investing in Oregon’s arts, humanities and heritage, and the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Lori Tobias is a journalist of many years, and was a staff writer for The Oregonian for more than a decade, and a columnist and features writer for the Rocky Mountain News. Her memoir “Storm Beat – A Journalist Reports from the Oregon Coast” was published in 2020 by Oregon State University press. She is also the author of the novel Wander, winner of the 2017 Nancy Pearl Book Award for literary fiction and a finalist for the 2017 International Book Awards for new fiction. She lives on the Oregon Coast with her husband Chan and rescue pup Gus.

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