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Mel Martin, a Newfane resident, pictured above and below, helps install a sign he designed for the New England Center for Circus Arts new location on Putney Road on Wednesday.
Brattleboro Reformer: Two huge signs installed at NECCA’s new home
Brattleboro Reformer: Two huge signs installed at NECCA’s new home

Brattleboro Reformer: Two huge signs installed at NECCA’s new home

How many people does it take to make a sign? Mel Martin, volunteer for New England Center for Circus Arts’ capital campaign effort, has found out over the last two years. “It’s more than one might think,” he says, “especially if it is a 12-foot diameter sign and you’ve never designed a sign before.”

Martin began designing two different signs in October 2014 for the newest custom-built circus arts trapezium building in the United States, built and located in Brattleboro, Vermont.

He initially wanted something that would stand out in a distinctive and bold, yet artistic, way that would reflect the all-encompassing nature of circus arts.

For the first sign, he came up with the idea of a circle, perhaps as in the circle of a compass. One can stand in the middle and choose to go in any direction. One might start off in the direction of aerial skills, but that doesn’t prevent someone from discovering juggling or clowning. The circle opens all possibilities – it is all encompassing, as in all ages, skills, and aspirations. 

“The circle also represents community. NECCA is a safe, supportive, non-competitive place to challenge yourself and discover new realms of the body and mind. It’s all connected,” he says. 

The second sign is a changeable-copy sign for announcing events and takes the form of two circles – a reflection of the founders, Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion, who are identical twins.

Designing the signs on paper is one thing, but where and how to get them made, and then how to get them transported, were additional challenges. It took nine players for the fabrication of the two signs. It started with a Chicago company, Atlas Tube, who donated the steel pipe; another Chicago company, Chicago Metal Rolled Products, then bent the pipe; the materials traveled to Atlas Metal Works of South Windsor, CT, for the fabrication; then to Specialty Restoration of Westfield, MA, for the sandblasting; to Westside Finishing of Holyoke, MA, for the power coating; and finally sign maker Dennis Tier Signs provided the finishing touches.

Jim Westbrook, pig farmer and husband of NECCA co-founder Elsie Smith, offered one of his flatbed trailers to transport the signs from Connecticut to Massachusetts to Vermont. The last stop was at NECCA, where Trumbull-Nelson Construction Co installed the signs sometime this week.

“I wanted both signs to emanate from the earth with no visible base of timber, brick, or stone. It’s an attempt to achieve the sense of a performer posed boldly and elegantly for all to see and enjoy,” says Martin.


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