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December 04, 2016
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Narrowsburg municipal art

The new sign outside Narrowsburg, that replaced the simple, elegant, restrained and dignified billboard that stood there for years, is a design abomination, similar in its ugliness and brash commercialism to a computer popup that blocks the screen in front of something you are looking at. A wonderful final exam for members of the Narrowsburg Design Committee would be a cross-reference of its members with the “designers” of the town billboard. Anyone involved should be sent home, a la American Idol, and be proscribed from further influence on our town’s appearance in any manner. Its obvious ugliness and thinly and coyly misleading directions, directing motorists to Main Street, may have been overlooked in the enthusiasm surrounding many of the erstwhile “public improvements” hereabouts. The arrival of grant monies for downtown invariably closely resembles “Jubilee,” when the fish ground themselves with jubilant abandon and are scooped up into any available receptacle. When the remainder of us not fortunate enough to be present on the beach that day are presented with the bill for the matching half by the State of New York, or other granting agency, I am sure the enthusiastic supporters of improvement will not be in attendance.

I ran a successful sign studio since 1968. I received awards from the U.S. Congress and New York State Assembly, as well as the Kansas Governor’s Award for Downtown Revitalization twice. I did the “Tusten Highway Department” sign over the town garage for free 10 years ago because I tired of having to look at the old peeling one that was there. I won three towns their Gerry Foundation Sullivan First monies with signs I did for them, as well as The Narrowsburg Inn.

If I may make a suggestion, don’t paint any sign a color that does not exist in the outdoors in April, at this location 12764, until you do research. Three-inch letters are only readable from eight feet away. Put the name in small letters and what the store is in big letters, and leave off the rest of the menu, as there will not be time to read it anyway. (And nobody is “into” what design or color you like, because your hair is blue and you have a stud in your eye-brow.) A business sign has a job to do first, and to look pretty and architecturally correct second. A public sign is a monument, and should look like one. We all have to look at it each day. Use Roman letters; they have dignity and history. One of the less ornate display typefaces, such as Tuscan, are legible, decorative and appropriate to a Victorian town. Look at old pictures.

The old-timers knew how to do a sign.

[Greg Wood, of Luxton Lake, NY manufactured and restored stained and leaded glass windows and made signs for churches in and around New York City for 35 years.]