Banners by artists Pam Chevez and Nora Tryon cover street-closing barricades in downtown Portland. Courtesy of Creative Portland

Five local artists contributed their creativity to help beautify barricades that are being used for street closures in downtown Portland. But already, a fabric cover created by one of those artists has been stolen.

Creative Portland hired the artists Angela Adams, Pam Chevez, Ebenezer Akakpo, Tamara Jones and Nora Tryon to add color, energy and messaging to the barricades, which are being used for the closures of Wharf, Dana and Milk streets, as well as a portion of Fore Street near Boothby Square.

The fabric covers fit over metal barricades, which resemble bike racks. The barricades are portable and secured with sandbags, making them easy to move to accommodate deliveries. The street closures are scheduled to last through Nov. 1.

The covers reflect a range of artistic styles and the city’s vibrant art community. Minot described the work as inviting and friendly. Chevez designed a mural of seaweed, sand pails, tacos, lobsters and buoys. Jones created a banner of seagulls flying at sunset, while Tryon made a banner of socially distanced fish. Adams made a splashy blue and white banner with the words “We are all in this together.”

Banners by Ebenezer Akakpo and Tamara Jones. Courtesy of Creative Portland

A banner by Akakpo titled “Endurance” and depicting a masked face with an adinkra symbol of his native Ghana, was stolen on April 30 from a barricade at Union and Wharf streets, soon after a couple posted news of their engagement in front of the barricade on social media. Akakpo is a jewelry designer and graduate of Maine College of Art.

“Someone spotted the banner on a bench and told us about it. But by the time we got down there, it was gone,” said Dinah Minot, executive director of Creative Portland. Each fabric banner is worth about $1,000, she said.

She hopes someone returns it soon – and that the others aren’t stolen.

Despite the theft, the project has been a bright spot for downtown, Minot said. The collaboration between the city and Creative Portland was funded with a Keep Maine Healthy grant that Creative Portland used for pandemic-related public-health messages. The banners extend that project.

“We are all in this together,” says a banner designed by Angela Adams. Courtesy of Creative Portland

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