May 10th, 2014
By Ray Lamont
A Rockport artist’s work featuring images that represent each of Cape Ann’s four communities has been chosen as the winning design for a Cape Ann license plate sought by the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce.
And Chamber officials have submitted it to the state Registry of Motor Vehicles, seeking final approval and the green light to step up the license plate fund-raising effort designed to generate revenue for the region’s four communities’ use in marketing and education.
Annalei Babson, a graphic artist and Web page developer who runs a home-based business called Coveside Designs and works with the Gloucester chapter of BNI — Business Networking International — crafted the design that’s been chosen by the Chamber to appear on the plate. Chamber Executive Director Ken Riehl also noted Friday that Babson’s plate drew the most votes from among those who turned out to view and choose from five designs at an April 3 reception that drew more than 200 people to Cruiseport Gloucester.
“We’re thrilled with the design,” said Riehl, “not only because it represents all four Cape Ann communities, but because it has the key elements of Cape Ann as a whole — the sea and the arts.”
The design features four panels showing Gloucester’s Man At the Wheel statue, Rockport’s Motif No. 1, sailing schooners as representative of Essex, and the Tuck’s Point Rotunda as a symbol form Manchester. The plate also includes the Web address MyCapeAnn.com, a website run by the Chamber, across the bottom, with an artist’s palette alongside.
Babson’s initial design had shown the artist’s palette representing Manchester among the four panels.
“I was thinking about the four towns, so Gloucester and Rockport were fairly easy, and I thought the schooners would be good for Essex,” Babson said. “But I kept asking myself, how do I represent Manchester?
“I kept asking people, and some said ‘Well, you could do Singing Beach.’ But how to you present a beach, and make it distinctive,” she continued. “So I knew Manchester has an annual arts festival, and thought I would use the painter’s palette to represent all of the arts.”
Once her design was chosen, she and Chamber officials worked together to find a more definitive image for Manchester — settling on the “compromise,” Babson said, that used Tuck’s Point as Manchester’s symbol, while also including the palette as a sign of Cape Ann’s overall arts focus.
Babson, who had worked with the Chamber previously in developing websites, will reap the Chamber’s $1,000 first prize for the license plate design, while two other artists will get $250 each as the runners-up.
Those other prize winners were Linda Hogan of Rockport, who submitted a design featuring a collage of a lobster, clams, sailboat and seagull, and Brian Silva of Gloucester, whose submission focused solely on The Man at the Wheel.
Babson said she was proud to have produced the winning design, and is looking forward to seeing the plate on the roadways of Cape Ann and elsewhere.
“I’ve always had a passion for art,” said the Vermont native, who is married to David Babson and has now lived on Cape Ann for some 20 years. “And I think I have a strong sense of aesthetics.
“I try to use that to help people communicate their message, and in this case, I wanted to convey the message of what Cape Ann is all about.”
With a design now in tow, Riehl said the Chamber is now gearing up to start marketing the plates, with plans to begin posting application forms on its website next week.
Even with a design in place — and even anticipating RMV approval — the Chamber must pre-sell at least 1,500 of the plates, which will cost $40 each on top of a motorist’s registration fee — before the Registry will commission its contractor, 3M, to make them.
Riehl said those interested in getting a plate should fill out the brief application form, when it becomes available, and send it in to the Chamber with a check for $40 made out to the Registry. The Chamber will then hold all checks until the RMV gives the go-ahead to move forward.
The Chamber would then be required to forward to the RMV the checks covering the 1,500 plates — and a $100,000 bond, Riehl said. In that vein, Riehl said the Chamber is really setting out with a goal of pre-selling 3,000 plates, which would eliminate the need for a bond. And he’s optimistic that goal is attainable.
“We’re getting a lot of expressions of interest,” he said, noting the crowd at the Cruiseport reception, which far exceeded the Chamber’s expectations, and the fact that “a few hundred” residents had also signed forms indicating they would be plate buyers — though those forms did not constitute a financial commitment.
“The important thing we want people to remember,” said Riehl, “is that this isn’t just a benefit for the Chamber. The (net) proceeds from this project will be given back to each of our four communities.
“This shouldn’t just help the Chamber,” he said, “it should help all of Cape Ann. That’s what this is all about.”
Times Editor Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705, or via email at email@example.com.