Laura Gongos, Co-Chair of Public Art Vermilion, a committee of Main Street Vermilion, attended a Special Historic Vermilion Design Review Board on October 7, 2019 to request approval to begin placing postcard themed artwork around Vermilion.
Gongos explained that the new program out of Main Street Vermilion has a goal to beautify Vermilion with public art. They started with a group of artists from the Arts Guild and they developed a vision and mission to what makes Vermilion unique. Through this process, they developed a Public Art Plan.
The group put out a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to artists earlier this year. They had three finalists - two from Cleveland and one from Lorain. The two men from Lorain were selected by the committee for a project that entails a series of 12 postcards that are going to be hand-painted from vintage postcards of Vermilion. These postcards will be painted on 5’ x 8’ marine grade plywood and will be placed on buildings and sites around town.
The committee will request approval from the Historic Board for each site located in Harbour Town. The first postcard, the iconic ‘Welcome to Vermilion’ postcard, will be placed on the wall around the side of the building at Tiffany’s so it will be seen when coming over the railroad tracks.
“The idea is that visitors coming into town can stand underneath the postcard for photos,” stated Gongos. She showed the board a video of the first postcard being painted, which is almost done. She asked for board approval for the placement of the first postcard.
Gongos stated there will be a series of 12 postcards going up around town, and the idea is to develop a walking tour map that they hand out to people. Sponsors of the postcards will also get 100 postcards made of their billboards that they can pass out to customers or mail out to promote business. She said when they put the first billboard up it will be a tool to sell their sponsorships.
“These postcards will not all be in the downtown area,” said Gongos. The committee is looking at other nostalgic locations in Vermilion, so they are hoping they can get one for Linwood, VOL Clubhouse, the Lagoons, and the owners of the Key Bank Building for Crystal Beach.
The postcards will be up for a period of four years because the artists have guaranteed they will be maintained for four years. Primary sponsors will have the option to keep the billboards up beyond the four years, but it will be up to them to maintain them.
Sponsorship of a postcard will be $2,000, the amount the committee is paying the artists. Sponsors will have recognition on the billboard, but it will be subtle. Public Art Vermilion will be responsible for maintenance of the postcards.
Gongos said they would like to have the first postcard up the first week of November.
The Design Review Board voted unanimously to authorize Public Art Vermilion to put up a 5’ x 8’ postcard on the wall around the building of Tiffany’s (Hammerschmidt building).