A banner day for downtown Port

The work of local artist Nicole Shaver will be unveiled in time for the return of Port Main Street’s Art Walk kickoff to the summer tourist season

PORT WASHINGTON NATIVE Nicole Shaver created 10 colorful potential designs featuring iconic images of the community, such as charter fishing boats and St. Mary’s Catholic Church, that could be used on banners that will fly over downtown streets. The five designs that received the most votes in a poll last fall are being incorporated into the banners, which will be unveiled later this month — just in time for the Sunday, May 30, Art Walk in downtown.
Ozaukee Press staff

Port Washington’s downtown will soon be decorated with colorful new banners — but exactly what those new banners will look like isn’t known right now, not even to the artist who designed them.

That artist is Port native Nicole Shaver, who last year created 10 banner designs for Port Main Street Inc. 

“They’re all so beautiful,” Main Street Executive Director Kristina Tadeo said, adding the banners will be hung during the week of May 24. “I love the colors and the life they have in them. They’re a great representation of the city and the beauty of the community.”

Shaver, who moved back to Port three years ago, said that for her making art is about a sense of place — something that is key to the banners.

“This was a focus on my hometown,” she said. “I wanted to not just focus on some cliches but to give it a new twist and identity. We have so much tradition.”

She took inspiration from scenes of the city she loves — and from some previous iterations of those scenes, noting one of the designs interprets a motif found on an old Port Washington sweatshirt.

Those scenes of Port are “moments people in Port Washington hold special — serene, solitary moments,” she said.

“It was a pretty cool project for me.”

The designs are colorful and bold, featuring iconic images such as the lighthouse and St. Mary’s Church, a sailboat, the Port Light Station and the gazebo at Rotary Park. Others point out Port’s role as a Bird City and a Monarch City.

Shaver said her favorite is an image of a sailboat on the lake with a rock in the foreground.

“That’s one of my favorite places,” she said. “There are plenty of places to enjoy that view. 

“The history of Port Washington is special to me. The way Port changes but doesn’t is really special. This is a homey coastal town that’s definitely worth being protective of.”

Her hope, she said, is that the banners bring a new appreciation for the city.

“I hope they bring some life to the reopening of downtown,” Shaver said, especially given the shadow cast by the Covid-19 pandemic over the past year. “I hope they give downtown a whole new feeling.”

She also hopes they help unify the downtown since the banners will be hung not just on Franklin Street but also Grand Avenue.

Main Street, held a contest last fall to select the five designs that will hang over the  city’s streets. The winning banners will be unveiled in time for Main Street’s Art Walk, which will be held from 11 am. to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 30.

“They have that artsy vibe to them, which makes it so great to unveil them during the Art Walk,” Tadeo said.

The Art Walk is being resurrected as a kickoff to the summer tourist season, and will host local and regional artists in businesses throughout the downtown.

Tadeo said that as of Tuesday 15 businesses and 10 artists had signed up to participate “and the numbers keep going up.”

The artists work in a variety of media, from painting and photography to sculpture and print making. Some will do demonstrations during the event.

The Art Walk will also include a children’s art station as well as live music on the patio at Beanie’s restaurant.

All of which will be held, of course, under the new city banners.

Shaver said she’s not sure which designs were selected for the banners, but noted that the public’s reaction is just another part of the artist’s journey.

“It’s nice to get feedback and see what people are gravitating to, what they value and appreciate,” Shaver said. 


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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