Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

A Banner Season for Peekskill Artists


Peekskill artists Carol Wax and John Gutierrez are having a banner season. Each recently had their artwork chosen in a contest run by the Peekskill Business Improvement District (BID) for the city of Peekskill’s new holiday banners. Half of the 150 banners hanging downtown are Wax’s design; the other half feature Gutierrez’s design.

Entering the banner contest was a natural choice for Wax, who has an annual tradition of designing winter holiday themed images.

Carol Wax creates images for solstice etchings every year.

“Every year I challenge myself to create images for original solstice etchings that must contain three elements: a snowflake, deer, and the color blue,” Wax said. “It’s something I enjoy doing, and I thought I had ideas that people might enjoy for the season.”

Wax, who has lived in Peekskill for 21 years, says she is flattered that her work was chosen. Seeing her work all over town “makes the town feel like an extension of my home, where I’m used to seeing my work on the studio walls,” she said.

You can find Wax’s work in collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among other places. The artist’s work was also recently shown at The Gallery at Met Store where she had a book signing for the second edition of her book The Mezzotint: History and Technique.

Unlike Wax, Gutierrez does not make annual holiday designs. He said he entered the contest because, “I felt like my art could add to the vibe of the Peekskill arts community. I felt like my style definitely reflects the DIY aesthetic, and I want to encourage the youth to be themselves and never settle for less.”

How does it feel to have had his artwork chosen? “It’s fun to see my artwork everywhere I turn while driving or walking around town and being able to point it out to my friends and family,” Gutierrez said. “It is also great to get such great recognition by so many different types of people who otherwise might not have known me as an artist and designer.”

Gutierrez is an artist and the founder of WHADAFUNK, a brand of streetwear clothing created at a space on South Street and sold nationwide. He has had a studio in Peekskill for four years but has been throwing community events in the city for a lot longer than that. “We like to combine the music, arts, and fashion scene into one place,” he said, “and Peekskill is great for that.”

John Gutierrez said he enjoys walking around town with his friends and family and seeing his design on the red banners.

Gutierrez said of his design, “I wanted to put a big snowflake that wasn’t too ‘perfect’ looking because I feel that no snowflake should be perfect. It is also something that everyone can recognize from far away, which was … important in the design.”

Banners are a tradition in downtown Peekskill. The city rotates seasonal banners throughout the year, but the holiday banners needed to be replaced. They were worn out, and they were a different size than the other seasonal banners, causing extra work for DPW employees when installing them. So the Peekskill BID created a holiday banner design contest for the new banners.

“We wanted to acknowledge the contributions of the Peekskill artist community,” said Bill Powers, Executive Director of Peekskill BID. “This was the first time the BID has had artists involved in the creation of winter/holiday banners. It was such a positive experience, we would like to find ways of collaborating with the artists’ community even more.”

The BID sent out a request for designs from Peekskill artists. Powers said that five artists submitted about 15 designs for consideration, and a small committee reviewed the submissions and made the selections. The winners were revealed at the farmers’ market on November 18, though the DPW started hanging up the banners a few days before that.

Winners receive more than the honor of having their artwork chosen and seeing it all over downtown.

“Each artist received $1,000 for use of their design,” Powers said. He then added, “Artists are often asked to contribute their artwork for free or for a small amount of money. We wanted to recognize the value of the artists and their artwork.”

While all of the 45 by 21 inch banners are confined to downtown Peekskill, you can still carry a piece of this seasonal artwork with you wherever you go. Wax’s design is featured on this year’s Peekskill Makes Me Merry buttons; Gutierrez’s art will be featured on next year’s buttons.

Peekskill Makes Me Merry buttons, distributed at the last farmer’s market and at the recent Peekskill holiday tree lighting, are available at the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber office, (1 S. Division Street) which is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 9 to 5.

About the Contributor
Jeannette Sanderson has been writing and telling stories since she was a child. The author and her husband moved to Peekskill more than 30 years ago and raised their children here. Jeannette loves Peekskill and delights in meeting and writing about the people who make this city special for the Peekskill Herald.