In a previous post I criticized the proliferation of illegally-placed political yard signs around Salem by candidates who would go nameless if I hadn't named them as Chuck Bennett (running for Mayor) and Warren Bednarz (running for City Council).
I now turn my attention from legalities to artistic impressions, following in the footsteps, or, rather, tire treads, of local blogger The Upright Cyclist.
His 2014 "The Hidden Meanings in Campaign Signs" delved into "deep-seated archetypes from the land of Ur" which I am incapable of philosophically analyzing so cogently and entertainingly.
So here's my artistic critique of some signs being used in current campaigning for the May 2016 election. (I tried to use images from the candidates' web sites, but couldn't find any for Bennett and Bednarz.)
Mayor candidate Carole Smith should gain the vote of purple lovers! Her yard sign has a feminine vibe, which befits her chromosomal status as a woman.
The green leaf (or possibly an elevated view or a mutated mouse) adds a pleasing quizzical note. What does this mean? Will she green-up Salem? Wear a wreath when she presides at City Council meetings? Or, and maybe this is just my own fantasy talking, hand out free cannabis?
By contrast, Chuck Bennett's Mayoral yard sign screams Traditional! I do give Bennett credit for resisting the urge to make his sign red, white, and blue. Bold move to eschew the red.
The typographic quality of the sign doesn't do much for me (neither does Bennett's candidacy, but that's another question). The mix of fonts and sizes is jarring. And why is the "elect" so small? From a distance the sign could simply be taken as a message that Bennett is Mayor.
In the Ward 7 City Council race, we have a similar feminine/masculine artistic divide. Newcomer Sally Cook also uses vegetation on her sign. She spearheaded getting a community garden going in her neighborhood, so this is a nice reflection of that.
Kudos for the "fresh start," which brings up thoughts of both plant and political "starts" blossoming under bright rays. Nice graphic design. Sign gives off a good positive feeling.
Warren Bednarz, the current occupant of the Ward 7 City Council seat, goes the red, white, and blue "blocky" design route. Interestingly, he doesn't mention what ward he represents, nor does he say "vote" or "elect."
I guess the sign is mainly about getting his name out there. It works for that. Putting "Warren" in a quasi-cursive font helps soften the blockiness somewhat. But overall I'm left with a very traditional vibe, much like Bennett's sign. (They're more conservative than their opponents, so this makes sense.)
In Ward 1, Cara Kaser is running for the City Council seat being vacated by Chuck Bennett. Her "Rosie the Riveter" image harkens back to World War II, a proto-feminist time for working women.
The sign appeals to me, in part because the lettering eschews red, white, or blue. It tells us that Cara Kaser will work for you -- the "you" presumably being everybody who sees the sign. This brings the observer and observed into an intimate existential connection.
(Damn, I CAN do some philosophical analyzing!)
Kaser's Ward 1 opponent, Jan Kailuweit, made a creative use of photo editing to have the Golden Man on top of the state capitol endorse his candidacy. Below is a close-up of the image I found on his Facebook page.
Artistically, the three candidates endorsed by the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce -- Chuck Bennett, Warren Bedarz, and Jan Kailiuweit all have similar-looking signs. White and blue, or red, white, and blue.
Kailuweit's sign doesn't do a whole lot for me. He doesn't mention Ward 1. He doesn't say "elect" or "vote," just "for."
Since many people in Salem, particularly those of a liberal/progressive persuasion, view a Chamber of Commerce endorsement as an indication that a candidate is beholden to special interests, I think Kailuweit would have been better off with a more creative sign like Cara Kaser's.
But hopefully, citizens will be choosing who to vote for on criteria other than who has the cutest sign.
The big difference is signs is where they are planted. You will see many, many of Sally's and Cara's signs in people's yards. This is because residents have been canvassed by the candidate or by volunteers, and they have asked for a sign to show their support. You will see very few of Bennett's and Bednarz' signs in yards because they don't have campaign volunteers knocking on doors, and they aren't doing that themselves to any great extent. So their signs are planted in front of businesses and in the case of Bednarz, in front of his many rental properties around town. If you want to know who real people are supporting, look for signs in yards.
Posted by: Jim Scheppke | April 07, 2016 at 09:10 AM