The founder of the popular Nye Beach Banner Project was air-lifted to a Corvallis hospital last weekend after falling while taking down the banners in preparation for the annual project’s fundraising auction.
Veronica Lundell, a Nye Beach business owner, artist, and community advocate, was about 15 feet off the ground when the ladder collapsed beneath her, sending her to the pavement below. A neighbor who was with her summoned help, and Lundell was flown to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center with a severe concussion and minor skull fractures. Friends have established a GoFundMe page to help raise money to cover the costs anticipated during her recovery and rehabilitation.
“She landed on the side of her head,” said Erin Tormey, Lundell’s neighbor and longtime friend. “Where she landed, there are number of hairline fractures in her skull near her ear. She is improving a lot, but her vision is blurry, and her hearing is impacted. Her body seems to be basically fine, although she is incredibly sore. It’s going to be a while. She needs a lot of rest.”
Once Lundell is released from the hospital, she is scheduled to go to a physical/occupational therapy center for two weeks, then home, where she will likely need additional support, Tormey said.
While Lundell has insurance, as a small business owner, her options for coverage are limited, Tormey said. “Insurance doesn’t cover inpatient rehab, and there is a hefty price tag associated with the airlift to the hospital, her week-long stay there, along with outpatient support and follow-ups once she gets home,” according to the GoFundMe page.
It was in 2009 that Lundell, owner of the Jovi boutique in Newport’s Nye Beach neighborhood, sought to address the area’s identity problem. Someone suggested hanging ready-made banners, but Lundell wanted no part of mass-produced banners. Instead, she decided to tap into the talent in her own neighborhood.
She bought a paint runner, cut it up and using leftover paint, created her own banner. That summer, 30 banners hung in the artsy oceanfront neighborhood. One was by world-renowned artist Rick Bartow, who continued to take part in the project as his health allowed until his death in 2016. In 2020, the project went international when residents of Newport’s sister city of Mombetsu in Japan created their own banners, also displaying those by Newport artists in their city.
“Veronica is one of those people great at connecting the dots, not just fun and games, but for making positive things happen in places she loves,” said Tormey. “That love comes through everywhere. She is a badass. She just makes it happen.”
The Nye Beach Banner Project Auction is set to open with a kickoff party Nov. 4. Bidding begins at 1 p.m. Nov. 4 and closes at 4 p.m. Nov. 11. Auction proceeds benefit youth arts education and public art through the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts.
“She’s very concerned about the banner project and how that is going to go,” Tormey said. “The great thing about Veronica is she’s put together a really great team of people, so it will happen. I’m worried about her … I just don’t want her to be worried about the wrong thing. But she has grit. She’s very tough and accomplished, but she hasn’t sacrificed any of her kindness, generosity, or great spirit just to be a badass. I have no doubt if anyone is going to recover 110 percent, it’s going to be her, and it’s going to be expensive.”