November 12, 2021
Hal Herron used to travel a lot, both domestically and internationally. For nearly every place he visited, he made time to go to the local art museums. Several years ago, while he was in Denver, Colorado, he went to the Denver Art Museum. That’s when he saw the giant banner of Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. As it turns out, many museums like the Denver Art Museum print these large exterior billboard banners to feature specific exhibits. Hal discovered that when these exhibits are over, the museums will simply store the large banners in the basement, almost always never to be seen again. That’s when Hal and his business partner, Mike Martin, decided to start the Riverton Art Banner Project.
Hal presented his idea, and after a very positive response from the museums, these recycled banners now have homes on the sides of buildings throughout Riverton where everyone can admire them. By 2017, Hal and Mike, with the help of Riverton locals and volunteers, had installed 16 pieces around the city. Hal and Mike’s efforts have transformed the plain buildings into stunningly large pieces of art for both locals and visitors to enjoy.
Most of these banners aren’t just ordinary pieces; they are prints of world-wide famous artists’ works. You can find Edgar Degas, Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso’s works on the side of the Riverton High School, Paul Cezanne’s Still Life and Riva San Biago Venice in the heart of downtown and John Singer Sargent at the Riverton Branch Library and above the entrance to the Robert A. Peck Art Center at Central Wyoming College. Some of these famous prints traveled a long way from their original museums. One of these larger-than-life pieces, Portrait of a Young Man, came all the way from the city of Amsterdam.
“You know, the sides of buildings aren’t really all that attractive. People get to see famous images that they wouldn’t be able to see normally. You’d have to go to Denver, Boston, New York City or Chicago to see some of these,” Hal says.
Some of these pieces were created specifically for the Riverton Art Banner Project, which features the work of some very talented local artists. Since 2017, a few additions have been hung around Riverton, with plans for more. This year, Riverton decided to take its Art Banner Project a step further. For the first time ever, a public vote was held in July for local artists around the area for new banner art, and in August, Skot Lain and Rusty Wuertz, both of Riverton, were announced as the two winners.
The ArtROADS Map of the Riverton Art Banners starts at City Hall, weaves throughout downtown Riverton and ends at Central Wyoming Regional Airport. There are even a few pieces located in Hudson, one of which is an actual mural, Running From the Storm, created by Jerry Antolik. The artist used paint from Germany with a special UV inhibitor to avoid fading from the sun. The wild horses painting in Hudson is over 20 years old and still looks brand new to this day.
Unfortunately for the last four years, the Banner Project has been forced to print their own banners due to cutbacks at museums and art galleries. Mike and Hal were fortunate to have Riverton-based Idea, Inc. help with this funding. More recent images have been provided courtesy of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West museum in Cody, Wyoming.
One piece of art at a time, the Riverton Art Banner Project is bringing the whole county together through recycled works and the beautification of buildings. “Consider this, if we kept doing this and got more aggressive with funding, we could actually call this the City of Great Works,” Hal says. “With adequate funding, this project could one day expand towards Shoshoni and Lander as well.”
Whether you’re looking for impressionism, Western wildlife and landscapes, romanticism, Baroque, expressionism, realism, American Renaissance or Cubism, there’s a piece among the Riverton Art Banners for you.