Sean McMenemy loves his town.
It's just one reason why the 15-year Lombard resident recently agreed to offer his art skills to the village at no cost by painting images for the newly expanded decorative banner program.
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"It's a great place to live and if I can help bring a little art into the community, what a great thing," he said.
McMenemy, 47, sketched dozens of images he felt defined summer in Lombard. The village chose four designs, including a classic car, an ice cream sundae, a picnic basket and a baseball hat and glove.
Residents can view the banners in their typical spots, along Main Street from Roosevelt to St. Charles roads, along Westmore-Meyers Road from Roosevelt to St. Charles and along St. Charles Road in downtown.
This year, the banners also have been added to lamp posts along Main Street from St. Charles Road to 22nd Street and along Highland Avenue from 22nd Street to Butterfield Road. As part of the expanded program, banners will be switched out every season, village officials said.
McMenemy recently discussed the project and his hope for the future of art in Lombard with the Daily Herald.
Q. What kind of art mediums do you generally work with?
A. By trade, I'm a computer graphic artist. I mostly do computer work, but I'm a traditional artist at heart. I grew up drawing and painting and the thing I love most is doodling and sketching and using watercolors.
Q. Did you propose doing the art for the banners or were you approached by the village?
A. I was approached by the village. There's this trend going around called urban sketching, and that's where you sit in a cafe or you sit somewhere and draw your surroundings. It's a fun exercise for someone like me who wants to get a quick impression of the world around you.
I had been painting and drawing a lot of pictures of Lombard and I had been talking to the Lombard Town Centre. They had seen my drawings and they love them, which I'm very happy about. They told (Lombard communication coordinator) Bridget (Doyle) about me and then Bridget asked me. I was very excited about it.
Q. You submitted dozens of designs. What else did you draw?
A. Basically, I started off with thumbnails, just little, tiny, not even a square inch drawings. I did about 30 or 40 little ideas, scanned those in. I numbered them and said, which ones do you like? They gave me a list of numbers and then I went from there, made some bigger, more detailed ones. After they approved those I just went ahead and ... sketched them out on a bigger sheet of paper and painted them up.
Q. Can you tell us about the ones they picked?
A. What they were looking for was something that had a summer theme. I made notes about what does summer mean to me and in Lombard, it's definitely ice cream and hot rods and just getting out to the park and stuff. We have the Cruise Nights and I love trying to get down there as often as I can to see the cars. And I love going to Dairy Queen. It's kind of a community place.
Q. How long did it take you complete the art?
A. Most of the paintings probably took anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, an hour and a half when I did the final work. I probably put in several hours coming up with sketches. Keep in mind I do this for a living. The final paintings weren't that detailed. They were just kind of ideas of summer.
Q. How did it feel to see the banners going up?
A. I found out about them (through) a friend of mine I work with who also lives in Lombard. He texted me and said "Hey, I think your banners are going up!" That night I drove around town and saw them. It was just neat to see them appearing.
Q. You said you hope this will help other artistic residents share their work. How do you hope your banner designs will help with that?
A. I definitely suggested the idea that there's probably a lot of other artists in town who would love, be thrilled, at the idea of submitting artwork and having it be put up on banners. You make it a contest or something, I think it would be really kind of a fun thing to get more artistic stir in the city. When they see some local guy who just went ahead and did it, maybe that might encourage others to feel like donating their time or something.
Q. You also have a website called HelloLombard.
A. I don't post to it a lot, but when something good happens, I like to post it or when I see something neat in town, I'll take a picture and post it on my blog. I wanted to do something that had a positive attitude toward the city and just kind of showed the good things, things that I like.
I've been toying with the idea of inviting others to write their happiness about town, but nobody's chimed in yet ... I'm just trying to do a positive thing.
Q. Do you have plans to continue doing Lombard-related art?
A. The village has said they would like to work with me. I'm pretty busy, but if I have time in my schedule, I'd be happy to do things here and there and I'd definitely like to suggest a few things, too.
Any bit of encouragement, I think, always helps artists to step forward and do something.