Special exhibit: Public voting for flag project underway

Chad Frey
Mary Lee-McDonald, director of the Carriage Factory Gallery, discusses different designs submitted for a contest to select a Newton city flag. The gallery is a public voting site for the Newton flag initiative.

There is a special, short-run art exhibit featuring dozens of local artists at the Carriage Factory Gallery that viewers do not have to go inside to see on display this week.

The front windows display 65 pieces of art, but the identities of the artists are hidden. Should viewers desire, they can head into the gallery and vote for their favorite work as part of the Newton Flag Project.

“I think it is impressive,” said Mary Lee-McDonald, director of the gallery. “There are some great designs, and 65 entries, I think that is fun.”

Lee-McDonald was a part of the steering committee for the project, announced last month. The city is seeking an official flag, mirroring initiatives in Wichita and Hutchinson.

According to Erin McDaniel, director of public information for the city of Newton, the flag is intended to inspire pride and unity in the community.

“Watching people communicate, and telling what Newton means to them (has been meaningful),” Lee-McDonald said. “Having 65 entries describing how (people) feel about this town is really fun.”

Each entry submitted is now posted in the widows of the Carriage Factory Gallery, in Newton City Hall and on the project’s Facebook page, facebook.com/newtonksflag. The people’s choice voting ends at 11:59 p.m. Aug. 16. Voting can be done online or at the public displays in city hall and the gallery.

“This is a good location that people can walk by,” Lee-McDonald said. “And if they can’t vote here, they can vote at city hall or online. ... We feel like we were easy accessibility and said ’hang them up.’ ”

Each entry also contains a description of what the artist was thinking as they designed their flags — everything from the meaning of color choices to the images selected for each flag design.

The winner will receive a cash prize, merchandise and recognition at a to-be-announced community event this fall.

The public vote is being used to narrow down top finalists, which will be judged by a volunteer panel of local artists and community members.

The committee will then bring the winning design to the Newton City Commission to consider adopting as the official city flag. The design will be in the public domain and made available for all to use.

Guidelines for the judging team include:

• Keep it simple. The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory.

• Use meaningful symbolism. The flag’s images, colors, or patterns should relate to or tell a compelling story about the community.

• Use 2-3 basic colors.

• No lettering or seals. Never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal.

• Be distinctive or be related. Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections.

• Be timeless. Avoid using features that will become dated or obsolete.

• Consider real-world structure. Images should be legible on both front and back of the flag, and legible while flying or hanging.

About 65 designs for a possible official Newton flag are on display at the Carriage Factory Gallery and City Hall.