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HomeArtArt Beat: Banners Beautify Hernando Beach Business District

Art Beat: Banners Beautify Hernando Beach Business District

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It may have been a chilly, overcast day last Thursday in Hernando Beach. But the unveiling of a carefully curated selection of tropical art along Shoal Line Boulevard added color and vibrancy to the day.

This lovely body of artwork took the form of decorative banners hung from specially placed poles in front of the Silver Dolphin Restaurant. The Hernando Beach Property Owners Association received a grant from the Hernando County Fine Arts Council for this installation—the first phase of a banner project funded by the HCFAC 2023 Community Arts Grant program. All banners will be placed at various points within Shoal Line Boulevard’s business district, with the ultimate aim “to recognize local artists while representing why folks love Hernando Beach.”

The $1,000 grant helped sponsor the printing costs of the banners, meant to beautify the entrance to the Hernando Beach Community and to depict within their borders the beauty and nature of Hernando Beach.

“This is a chance for local artists to promote the arts here along the avenue,” said Bill Roberts, president of the Hernando Beach Property Owners Association. “Just this morning, as we were setting up the banners, a Spring Hill man walking by stopped to ask, ‘Are these banners going to be placed all along the street here? That’s so cool!'”

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Representatives of the Hernando County Fine Arts Council also find this project to be very cool indeed. “We know this banner project will be the first of many,” said Allisa Babor, HCFAC Chair. “This is part of our ongoing effort to make Hernando Beach, Hernando County, an arts destination.”

This project, according to HCFAC Secretary Diane Greenwell, was truly a team effort, one custom designed “to expand upon the arts, attracting those who seek out the old Florida, small community art events, while adding to the charm of our First Saturdays Hernando Beach Front Porch Art Walk.”

“A lot of people and a lot of effort were involved here. HCFAC, Coastal Hernando Business Group, and HBPOA all worked together to make the banner project a reality. Coastal Hernando Business Group, Inc. provided funding for the posts for the banners to be displayed. Yan Milcendeau, owner of the Silver Dolphin Restaurant & Country Store, is hosting the first banners on his property. The amount of the CAG grant awarded was $1,000, with funds used to buy the materials to mount the banners, print the banners and recognize the artists for their contributions. In addition, each received a gift card to Silver Dolphin Restaurant,” she said. “HBPOA applied for the grant, and Bill Roberts and his team have provided all of the legwork for quotes, determining where the first banners would be installed, and installation of the banners. And the artists donated prints for the banners—which are intended to show everyone that Hernando Beach is a place to visit, to drive and to enjoy.”

And Thursday morning, a crowd assembled to witness the unveiling of the first eight Hernando County beach banners, also honoring the artists whose lush, tropically inspired artwork graces their surfaces.

Victoria Yeager. Steve Benevides. Diane Ziemski. Brian Kelly. These were the first four artists handpicked to participate in the initial round of the beach banner project.

Brian Kelly’s textured acrylic print of exotic fish swimming in the waves was among those unveiled at the ceremony. “I’ve participated in the Front Porch Art Walk and think that it’s a great idea to post banners through the area,” he said. “This is bringing the community together.”

Diane Ziemski has contributed four watercolor banners to the first round of the flag project. “This brings inside art outside. We have watercolors, acrylics, oils—a little bit of everything,” she said.

A multiple award-winning artist, Ziemski contributed ebullient prints depicting exotic tropical birds, blue herons and sandhill cranes. “This project should encourage artists who live here to make and present their art,” she said.

Steve Benevides, owner of Steven Benevides Art Gallery and known in particular for his acrylics and murals, is a frequent Front Porch Art Walk participant. He contributed a banner emblazoned with the vibrant image of dolphins at play.

Victoria Yeager, a frequent participant in the Front Porch Art Walk, contributed sparkling images of a dolphin and a sea turtle. “I love this idea,” she said. “I feel blessed to be a part of it.”

Brian Kelly and Diane Diane Ziemski and Steve Benevides stand proudly beside their banners. [Courtesy photo]
Brian Kelly and Diane Diane Ziemski and Steve Benevides stand proudly beside their banners. [Courtesy photo]
Brian Kelly and Diane Ziemski stand proudly beside their banners. [Courtesy photo]
Brian Kelly and Diane Ziemski stand proudly beside their banners. [Courtesy photo]
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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