ST. MICHAELS — When the banners fly on Talbot Street, it’s one of the first signs the St. Michaels community is about to enter the full swing of summer recreation that brings thousands of tourists to town.

From one end of Talbot Street to the other, colorful banners delight visitors and residents with depictions of iconic boating scenes, crabs, local wildlife and summer fun.

This annual event, now in its 10th year, is made possible through the support of many individuals, businesses and organizations. The banner artwork is created by members of the St. Michaels Art League, but that is just the beginning.

The collaboration kicks off early in winter as SMAL artists create paintings in various media in the required banner format. Then the painted images go into production.

Kevin Snelling, proprietor of Creative XPressions, scans the paintings and sends them to Sharper Graphics in Easton, where Bob Porter produces the banners.

Price’s Yacht Canvas Shop in St. Michaels then sews the banners back to back, readying them for hanging on utility poles.

Finally, Curtis Short and his crew from Choptank Electric Cooperative hang the banners in April, just as springtime emerges from the cold and wind.

Snelling continues his support of SMAL artists by offering poster versions in his Talbot street shop. A portion of sales is returned to the artist and the art league. Many of the images are the products of award-winning artists.

The Talbot County Arts Council, with funds provided by the Maryland State Arts Council, assists with partial funding for many of the league’s community-oriented events, including the banners.

Support from the councils also help students from local schools participate in the banner program. This year’s grant covered the cost to produce four banners from AP art students at St. Michaels Middle High School. Under the tutelage of their teacher, Bridget Whited, artwork by Eve Yacopino, Lillian Muckelroy, Georgia Kline and Elizabeth Scharch is featured along with SMAL artists.

While the art league’s mission is to enhance the appreciation of art and members’ artistic professionalism, the town continues to benefit from the economic promotion a lively arts scene engenders. Art enthusiasts should look forward to the Labor Day Show in St. Michaels, where many of the original banner paintings and actual street banners will be offered for sale.

The banners will be taken down in November, just a few short months before the process begins anew.

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