Public Art Vermilion: Main Street Vermilion’s Newest Program

Expect surprise, creativity and beautification through art in Vermilion.

Main Street Vermilion is proud to announce that it has added Public Art Vermilion to its family of programs, which includes Vermilion in Bloom, Shore Thing, Lighthouse Preservation and the Vermilion Arts Guild. Each operates within the Main Street Vermilion organization as 501(c)3.

“After more than two years in development, it’s time to share this exciting news with the community it will benefit,” said Marilou Suszko, executive director for the organization. “This program has great potential and plans for adding elements of art and points of interest throughout the entire community over time.”

The program is co-chaired by Laura Gongos and Debby Zanglin who work with a 20-member advisory board comprised of business owners, community leaders, artists and art enthusiasts. “We are privileged to have a team of experienced, motivated volunteers on board to move this program forward,” said Suszko. “Their enthusiasm, creativity and energy has been key in launching this initiative.”

“The first question we asked as we explored adding this program was, ‘Is the community interested in public art?,” said Zanglin, who drew on a long career in market research to get the answer. The survey developed drew more than 430 responses.

“The answer was a resounding ‘yes,’” she said.  “Many felt that public art could promote the history and culture of Vermilion as well as connect people by creating gathering places around art.”

Zanglin added that when asked how they wanted to be involved, the answers reflected a range of preferences. “People want to be engaged whether attending a public art walk or identifying potential locations for public art,” she said. “Some want to watch artists create art or help create it themselves while others indicated that performance art, including dance, theatre and concerts appeal to them.”

“What was really interesting to discover was that people want to see public art in ‘unexpected places,’” added Zanglin, “and it was important to them that it was in parks, on the lake and river fronts, in front of public buildings as well as in their own neighborhoods. We couldn’t have been happier with the level of engagement the survey revealed.”

Gongos, whose experience and knowledge of public art programs was developed with her involvement in the Pittsburgh area, is confident that Vermilion is ready for a program of its own.

“To many people, public art conjures up images of bronze statues and murals,” said Gongos. “If you look at other towns across the country, including many Ohio Main Street communities like ours, public art’s wider range included everything from permanent light and water features to one-day, pop-up exhibits and performances.”

While Vermilion is blessed with natural charm and a few pieces of public art, there has been no formalized plan to develop and manage public art. “PAV has created a plan that considers best practices of other towns with successful public art programs,” said Gongos. “We hope to use art not to just enhance the way our community looks but to encourage educational and economic opportunities as well.”

“For Vermilion, public art is an opportunity to create a ‘sense of place’ and enhance those characteristics unique to our small town” she added. “It’s been particularly exciting to see the passion and enthusiasm of our advisory board as we work on our first installation.”

“Many identify Main Street with our events like Ice-A-Fair, Chalk it Up and Hot Diggity Dog Day,” said Suszko. “Yet it’s our programs that concentrate on how our community looks and feels, the history we preserve and the elements that identify us as Vermilion, not just for our visitors but for everyone who lives here,” she added. “We think the addition of public art will just add to our pride of place.”

Still in development, the first public art project is anticipated to have a late summer roll out. Information will be available on the Main Street Vermilion website or look for announcements on Main Street’s Facebook page.