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American Sign Museum Hosts Letterheads 40th Anniversary Meet

Event takes place September 24-27 in Cincinnati



In late September, signpainters young and old, and even those simply interested in the traditional art of signpainting, are invited to attend the 40th Anniversary meet of the Letterheads, here at the American Sign Museum. The four-day event (Sept. 24-27) will offer 23 different, formal workshops presented by veteran Letterheads from across the country, as well as England and New Zealand. Also, informal sharing of knowledge, demonstrations and panel exchanges abound at Letterhead meets.
“Letterheads 40: Keepers of Our Craft” is the first national Letterhead meet in nearly a decade. The last such event, in the summer of 2006, coincided with ST’s centennial and ASM’s first anniversary of having opened in its original 4,500-sq.-ft. rented space. Consequently, “Letterheads 40” will serve as a reunion for first- and second-generation Letterheads, but it will also introduce a new generation of signpainters to the spirit of this grassroots movement, and allow it to tap into an incredible knowledge base of traditional signpainting techniques.
To some degree, Letterheads has evolved into the Walldog meets that have proliferated nationwide. Accordingly, Letterheads 40 will have its own wallpainting party, coordinated by Nancy Bennett, Centerville, IA, who has organized countless Walldog meets. Six themed walls have been designed. Two will be painted on walls of the museum proper: One will render the Letterheads 40, David Butler-designed logo; the other will be an ST-themed design that features its inaugural May 1906 cover.
The blank canvas for the other four designs will be the side wall of the drywall-distributor building, which abuts the museum’s parking lot. Each design is themed around a business or entity that was located near the museum. One is for NexGen, the building-supply distributor; another is for Fashion Frocks, a woman’s clothing manufacturer that occupied the building the museum now calls home from the 1920s to the 1950s; a third is for the Cincinnati Reds, who played in a field a few blocks away in the late 1890s; and the fourth has a Crosley theme – the well-known radio and appliance manufacturer occupied the building directly north of the museum. Each wall has an assigned project manager, but Letterheads attendees can volunteer to serve on the crews that will paint the six walls.
Beyond the walls, a pinstriping tent will host formal workshops as well as impromptu demonstrations. Several vintage, albeit “distressed,” signs from the museum’s collection will be offered up for repainting before the neon gets restored. And, last but not least, a 40-ft. wall has been constructed for a “Letterhead timeline,” so attendees can bring mementos from past Letterhead meets – panels, projects, t-shirts, etc. – for temporary display during the meet.
The first two days will largely be devoted to the 23 formal workshops held at the two “official” Letterhead hotels. All attendees will move to the museum for the second two days, where the informal sessions will occur. Easels will be set-up in the Annex area of the museum for creating panels and the other projects that typify a Letterhead meet; the museum proper, as well as the Annex, and will be open to all throughout the four days.
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