By John Burton
FAIR HAVEN — When Mayor Benjamin Lucarelli “just wanted to get banners that reflect Fair Haven life” in the borough, he turned to artist Michael Quon.
He believes he got exactly what he wanted.
Lucarelli approached Quon, a Fair Haven resident, about coming up with a series of banners to decorate lampposts along River Road after running into the artist at a charity event.
Quon agreed and the brightly colored banners will be going up in the next couple of weeks.
Lucarelli was completely won over by Quon’s body of work, his enthusiasm for the project and his generosity for donating his time and effort.
“He just seized on this,” the mayor said, “and he’s been working really hard.”
“My hope is that they capture the essence of the area,” Quon said.
The posters, measuring 18-by-36 inches, include Quon’s interpretations of Fair Haven docks, an image of a sailboat and boy on a bicycle, done in rich deep colors, evoking the 1960’s work of such pop icons as Peter Max and Andy Warhol.
“The idea is to make people think of Fair Haven,” Quon said.
Quon, 66, who has spent his life as an artist and art director, now heads Quon Design, LLC, working in promotional/advertising and design projects for a variety of corporate clients and not-for-profit organizations.
Over the years, he’s done work for New York City, creating the logo used for a dining out promotion; he has drafted the design for the Red Bank Jazz and Blues Festival; and has done posters for productions at the Two River Theater in Red Bank. Quon also has had exhibitions of his works at Oyster Point Hotel in Red Bank, the Guild of Creative Art in Shrewsbury and the A.J. Dillon Gallery of Art in Atlantic Highlands, depicting his favorite subjects, stylized urban structures and shore images.
He has contributed his efforts for various charitable organizations’ fundraising efforts, including Susan G. Komen and Sea Bright Rising.
Quon said he comes by his artistic inclination honestly, inheriting it from his father. Milton Quon was an animator for the Disney Studio, having worked on such classics as “Fantasia” and “Dumbo.” At age 101 the senior Quon still draws and paints regularly, because “it gives him great pleasure,” his son said.
“I got the art talent in the family,” he said. His brothers became a dentist and pharmacist.
The comparisons to Max and Warhol are apt, he said. Quon is from California and studied on the West Coast in the 1960s at UCLA with artists Michael Diebenkorn and Edward Ruscha, both of whom became quite noted for their association with the pop art movement of the era.
“I have the mixture of pop art, Southern California color and contemporary art,” he said.
“My art is feel good, cheerful. I don’t know if happy is the right word, but cheerful, bright.”
Quon left Southern California for New York City in the 1970s and then relocated to Fair Haven about 12 years ago.
When people see the work he’s doing for his now hometown, “I want them to have a positive feeling and know we live in a nice area, here on the Jersey Shore.”
Lucarelli is thrilled with the results.
“I’m really excited to have a nationally renowned artist, and adopted Fair Havenite dedicate his time to come up with these banners,” the mayor said.
Fair Haven had banners hung for the borough’s centennial celebration about a year ago, made from the artwork done by children at Knollwood School. This year, Lucarelli hoped to go a different way.
He believes Quon’s work offers a vibrant perspective. “The colors, that’s very much Mike Quon’s take. He’s a unique treasure to Fair Haven.”
Lucarelli expects the banners to be hanging on the lampposts within the next two weeks.