Founded in 1924, the Boys & Girls Club of St. Marys is launching its year-long 100th Anniversary celebration by debuting a computer-animated, 18.5-second Public Art work created in collaboration with international award-winning author and artist John Schlimm and the City of St. Marys. Site-specific and installed on St. Marys’ digital community calendar located on The Diamond, “THE SMILE 100 Billboard” brings together the organization’s new 100th Anniversary logo and John’s Participatory and Interactive Art project
“THE SMILE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is yours)” by featuring smiling faces colored by the young people who visit the club. “THE SMILE 100 Billboard” installation will be in rotation on the downtown community calendar from January 5 to February 5.
“This is a great opportunity to collaborate with an amazing artist, John Schlimm, and the City of St. Marys,” said the Boys & Girls Club of St. Marys’ Chief Executive Officer Joe Jacob. “Collaborating with the city throughout this anniversary is extremely important as without the city and some of its founding fathers believing that having a Boys & Girls Club is important in our community, who knows if we would be celebrating this milestone. This is just the kickoff as we plan to celebrate the one-hundredth year throughout the entire 2024, so stay tuned for some exciting events that will help support the Boys and Girls Club of St. Marys. I just want to really say thank you to the City of St. Marys and John for allowing us to all work together and collaborate on this project.”
Inspired by the iconic computer-animated “Spectacolor Billboard” images in Times Square created by pop artist Keith Haring and organized by the Public Art Fund in 1982, John conceptualized “THE SMILE 100 Billboard” as a fitting tribute to the Boys & Girls Club of St. Marys and the young people of the community.
“This milestone anniversary for our Boys and Girls Club, combined with my ‘SMILE’ project’s tenth anniversary this year, was a perfect opportunity to celebrate both the century of outstanding work by the organization and the imaginations of the young people it has served,” said John, whose “SMILE” project has been installed across the country and most recently was adapted into “THE SMILE COIN” project that he did in collaboration with the St. Marys Area High School’s Dutch Manufacturing students and Community Education Center of Elk and Cameron Counties. “Also, I jumped at the opportunity to explore a digital medium with ‘THE SMILE’ and to be able to pay homage to fellow-Pennsylvania artist Keith Haring and one of my favorite works by him, the ‘Spectacolor Billboard’ images.”
“THE SMILE 100 Billboard” was in the works for about two months before its debut. This involved John creating the blank faces and the Boys & Girls Club of St. Marys team having the kids there color them. From there, City of St. Marys staffer Emily Reed compiled all of the components, experimented with potential designs, graphics, and animations, and along with John, Joe Jacob, and Joe Fleming finalized the work.
“I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of ‘THE SMILE 100 Billboard,’” said Emily. “I love that this collaborative art project is celebrating both the one-hundredth anniversary of the Boys and Girls Club, a monumental accomplishment in community outreach, and the tenth anniversary of John Schlimm’s ‘THE SMILE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is yours).’ As a newer employee to City Hall, I am honored to be able to work alongside such inspiring people and organizations. I think the concept is really fun and the message is simple. A SMILE, your smile, can go a long way, even change the world.”
In addition to kicking-off the 100th Anniversary year for the Boys & Girls Club of St. Marys, the colorful and captivating spirit of “THE SMILE 100 Billboard” also strives to brighten up what is often a snowy, gray, cloudy, post-holiday time of year, especially for the folks walking and driving past the City of St. Marys Community Calendar on The Diamond.
Likewise, this Public Art work is also a way for the City of St. Marys to offer its gratitude for an historic, downtown institution whose welcoming nature, positive influence, and creative inspiration has rippled across numerous generations within the community and out into the world for a hundred years.
“As we congratulate the Boys and Girls Club on their one-hundredth anniversary and John on the tenth anniversary of his ‘SMILE’ project, I want to thank Joe and John for including us in their celebration,” said the City of St. Marys’ City Manager Joe Fleming. “The Boys and Girls Club of St. Marys has enhanced the area youth for generations, which is no small feat. The club continues to adapt to the ever-changing environment surrounding our youth by providing activities and programs to promote their growth. I commend the hard work of Joe and his team at the Boys and Girls Club for making it happen. ‘THE SMILE’ project is another great example of how positivity is spread throughout our community. John has done amazing things to get his wonderful message out, reaching across our nation to hear the experiences and stories of the younger generation. A lot can be learned by a simple SMILE.”
For more information about the Boys & Girls Club of St. Marys, please visit www.smboysandgirlsclub.com. For more information about the City of St. Marys Community Calendar, please visit www.stmaryspa.gov.