Through snow, rain and blustery days, local artists weathered all conditions with a steady brush and a desire to bring cheer with their art. Stroke by stroke, artists brought to life Christmas scenes starring the Grinch, Santa Claus, reindeer and more.
First for Halloween and now for Christmas, Mary Lynn Peter brought local artists together to revive a beloved tradition back downtown this holiday season. The artists came together through the Frankfort and Clinton County Artists and Musicians Facebook group, which encourages local artists to share their work and network with other creative people and art lovers in the community.
For Peter and many others, seeing this tradition come back is nostalgic with excitement that downtown has progressed forward enough to support the tradition once more.
“They did it back when I was in high school, but then they stopped because there was nothing downtown anymore,” Peter said. “But now we have started getting them back, so I wanted to do something again. Now we have so many people on board.”
Peter said there was a ‘crazy’ amount of interest, between business wanting a painting and artists who wanted to paint. In the weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving, 26 artists painted windows at 38 businesses in downtown Frankfort and beyond. Many of the artists invested the time and money to create multiple paintings during those weeks.
“I want you all to know that I appreciate all of you for stepping up and doing this and doing all that you could,” Peter said. “Business owners love it all, I have gotten so many comments and compliments – it is crazy.”
The painting contest culminated Sunday with a reveal of which paintings were deemed the best. Peter recruited Frankfort's Unified Neighborhoods (F.U.N.) to judge the contest again. Tammy Danner, who led the judging effort for F.U.N., explained that the paintings were scored using a 30-point scale of attributes, with no knowledge of who painted which business.
The Grand Prize painting is a scene inspired by Disney’s Frozen at the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office. Local artist Jennifer Davis, who also painted scenes at The Farmers Bank, First Merchants Bank and Heather’s Flowers, said this Frozen piece took her almost a week of painting on and off and was completed while battling cold temperatures and a head cold.
“The artists all put so much time in; there is fantastic work everywhere,” Davis said. “I’m flattered to have won because everyone did such a great job.”
Rounding out the top five were Jake Peter’s painting at Goodwin Funeral Home in second place, Jess and Brandon Wessell’s painting at the Iron Block Building in third place, Mercaide Polston’s painting at Safe Haven Spa in fourth place and Leah Kellner’s painting at McCollom T.V. and Appliance Center in fifth place.
Prizes ranging from $225 to $75 were given to top placers, while the other 21 artists who participated earned $50 for their hard work, Peter explained. The prize money was donated by the participating business owners, who each paid $25 per window toward the prize pot.
Danner had one request for the painters who return next year – don’t make it so hard. She said the judges marveled at how well done many of the paintings turned out to be and ended up giving very high scores almost all of the paintings. Frankfort Main Street Executive Director Kim Stevens said the paintings are both a great community collaboration and a unique placemaking project to draw people downtown during the holidays.
“This was a huge project and (Main Street) is proud of the great job and hard work that Mary Lynn, the incredible artists, and the F.U.N. members have put in to make this happen,” Stevens said. “Great job everyone and thank you for making a difference!”
Peter is already thinking about next year’s contest and is making plans to collect more sponsorship dollars next year to reduce art supply costs for artists who participate.