Unique political signs paint neighborhoods

“My Yard, Our Message”, a project allowing artists to create political yard signs on the Internet and submit them for a competition, are on display at the Walker Art Center. The top 50 signs will be distributed to Seward neighborhood, Dayton’s Bluff and West Side neighborhood.

Jennifer Whalen

“My Yard, Our Message”, a project allowing artists to create political yard signs on the Internet and submit them for a competition, are on display at the Walker Art Center. The top 50 signs will be distributed to Seward neighborhood, Dayton’s Bluff and West Side neighborhood.

With elections come yard signs, most of which are billboards for their respective candidates âÄî until now. A project called My Yard, Our Message allowed artists to create yard signs on the Internet and submit them for a competition. The top 50 signs would be distributed to three Twin Cities areas: the Seward neighborhood in Minneapolis, DaytonâÄôs Bluff and the West Side neighborhood in St. Paul. As part of the Twin Cities UnConvention community initiative, almost 300 signs were submitted in June and the public submitted more than 24,000 votes in July to select the 50 winning signs. The Walker Art Center and mnartists.org were the two main contributors to the project. With the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, the Twin Cities are on display, and Sarah Peters , whose education and community programs department at the Walker Art Center put the project together, views it as an opportunity. âÄúWe wanted to show the world that we have a very vibrant arts community and politically engaged artists that arenâÄôt going to be delegates, but are still a part of the political process,âÄù she said. People from the three neighborhoods were allowed to pick up the winning signs for free. Sheldon Mains, chairman of the Seward Neighborhood Group , said they put the 50 signs up on the hill at Matthews Park and more than half of the signs were picked up the first day. As of Thursday, there were six signs left. The project was attractive to Seward because it was on the liberal end of the political spectrum and sounded interesting and fun, Mains said. The best way to describe Seward is that there is a progressive bubble over the neighborhood, he said. Seward has always had strong voter turnout and plenty of yard signs up during election season. Where there were Ralph Nader signs a few years ago, there is now a diverse group of signs with messages like: âÄúBurn fat, not oilâÄù and âÄúMy red-neck, sexist, gun-toting, racist brother-in-law is voting. Are you?âÄù Submissions for the design contest came from all over the world, but the top two signs came from Teri Kwant , who is a Seward resident, which Mains said was a nice plus. KwantâÄôs winning sign bears the message: âÄúIâÄôm for pre-emptive peace.âÄù Another Seward resident, Justin Heideman , who had two signs finish in the top 50, also works at the Walker Art Center and designed the website myyardourmessage.com, where all of the submitted signs can be viewed and ordered. The website also has a map where people who have the signs can show where they live, so people can see where the signs are up. As of Friday, 187 signs had been purchased online. Most of the signs are in the three neighborhoods they were distributed to, but there are also signs up in Michigan, Colorado and South Dakota. In addition to peopleâÄôs homes, the signs are also on display outside the Walker, where Peters said they will remain until they blow down.