For a number of years now, artists from Vermont Arts Exchange in North Bennington, Vermont, have been painting designs across the town’s snowplows. Last year, Rhonda Ratray, a teaching artist in the program, was invited by her boss, Executive Director Matthew Perry, to create that year’s design.
But, Ratray recalls, “It snowed earlier than expected and Norm [LeBlanc of the Highway Department] needed the plow for the roads, so we put it off till 2020.”
So this fall, together with her art students from Vermont School for Girls, which provides services to girls ages 11 to 20 with special needs, she developed the painting.
“When I had first conceived of my design, the plow was a light blue and I was thinking of a snowdragon/ serpent motif,” Ratray writes. “In 2020, Norm got a new plow that was a beautiful deep orange color and I felt I needed to tweak my design. I knew I wanted to do a beast and so a bat-inspired creation seemed more relevant in 2020 and it gave me an opportunity to utilize the base color of the plow.”
They cut out mylar stencils—one for each color: pink, yellow, black—to guide the painting of the yellow-eyed “Batbeast” with a fanged smile spanning the 11-foot-wide plow. “One of my students was especially helpful cutting the mylar stencils with me during class time,” Ratray writes. “After each layer was cut, we excitedly taped up the stencil and spray-painted.”
LeBlanc added reflective tape to make the creature’s eyes shine. “Which,” Ratray writes, “I thought was perfect.”
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