Sail Project to Enhance Downtown, Promote Shipbuilding


by Terry Rogers




Banneker students Ricky Ramirez, Anthony Nash and Samantha Gomez stand by a sail to be displayed in downtown

The Downtown Milford, Inc. (DMI) Design Committee was searching for a project that would enhance the downtown area while also paying homage to the shipbuilding industry that was critical to the formation of the town. The Sail Banner Project is designed to fulfill both missions.

“The committee’s goal was to stress the importance of design in the Main Street area and draw attention to storefronts, signs, landscaping, public spaces, much like the Milford in Bloom program,” Murrie Zlotziver, Executive Director of DMI, said. “The committee was looking for something new to enhance the downtown and decided to emphasize Milford’s shipbuilding heritage as a focal point through a public art. The idea of sail banners decorated by artists was created.”

Two different sizes of banner were created, manufactured for DMI by First State Manufacturing. The large banners will be placed along the Riverwalk. Sara Pletcher, President of DMI, suggested creating a smaller version of the banner that businesses could use as a way to advertise. There will be 20 large sale banners and 12 small banners, all painted by local artists. Some of the artists include, Cathy Walls, Nadia Zychal, Marcia Reed, Ashby Amory, Gilberto Rodriguez and students at Milford School District. Milford Antiques, Irish Rose, Fur Baby and the Bank House are also creating banners for their businesses. Each business chose their own artist for their banners.

Zoe Layton of Ross works on her banner

The large banners as well as materials were provided to artists at no cost but businesses were required to pay $200 for each banner. No requirements or restrictions were placed on the artists and they were not required to include the city name nor did they have to use the city logo.

“The emphasis was on being creative and having a good time,” Zlotziver said. “Artists were sought through the Mispillion Art League and word of mouth.”

Ellie and Spencer Peel who are in 5th and 3rd grade at Mispillion Elementary School are creating a banner, something they say is a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for children while Samantha Gomez, who loves drawing, felt this was a “cool project.” Jordan Akins, who is in 5th grade at Mispillion, wanted to show other children that they could be creative and Anthony Nash, grade 5 at Banneker, wanted to do it because he liked to draw so others can see what he sees.

“I wanted to do this because I thought it would be cool for kids to see their paintings when they are older,” Ricky Ramirez, who is in 5th grade at Banneker, said. “I wanted my voice and my creativity to be heard. I live near the downtown area and I loved drawing the bridge and the library area because it is what reminds me of Milford. I would love for people to know we have important artists in our town. It would be nice for other people to come to our town and see these famous paintings so Milford could become a famous tourist attraction.”

Zoe Layton chose the library from several photographs provided by Ms. Fitzpatrick. She chose the library because she loves to read and because the library is very close to the Riverwalk. She thought that if people visiting Milford saw the sail with the library, they would be inclined to visit the building. The Peel children put different symbols to represent their favorite places. A bicycle represents Lifecycle, the coffee cup represents Dolce. Candles on their sail represent the celebration of Milford’s birthday and lighting candles on the river. Akins created the sail as it helped Milford, choosing the ladybug because it is the state insect and a big part of Milford. Nash also chose ladybugs due to their connection to the town. Gomez chose the Riverfront Theatre as she drives by there on the way to school and she thought the building was pretty.

Zychal, one of the adult artists chosen for the project, felt it was important for her to contribute to her community.

Nadia Zychal’s creation for the Sale Banner Project

“Art is my profession as well as my avocation, so if I have the luxury of time to share it for a good purpose, I am happy to do so. I wanted to create something that might represent the spirit of this special place. In order to honor the shipbuilding heritage of Milford, the banners were designed in the shape of a sail. The water-themed concept was associative. I wanted to put a Delaware spin on seafaring myth, so a horseshoe crab crown felt like a natural appropriate fashion choice for a Mispillion mermaid. Public art makes a statement unique to its place. It adds beauty, improves quality of life and is universally accessible. Living in a place where beautiful things are made to be shared with everyone is extremely uplifting. There is an enormous amount of creativity and talent here waiting to be tapped. Drawing attention to Milford with public art brings awareness to that and that is a good thing.”

The banners will be unveiled at a public gathering scheduled for Saturday, May 25. The public is invited to come out and bring a picnic basket, enjoy the Farmer’s Market and celebrate all that Milford has to offer.