By Morgan Cartier Weston | Photography by John Michael Simpson
The Chatham 250 planning committee knew it would be a challenge to design a logo that encompassed so much history when they decided to create an image to mark the anniversary. Chatham County Community Partners Analyst and Chatham 250 Project Manager Hilary Pollan says the committee agreed the logo had to showcase the celebration’s themes: creative arts, diversity and community, growth and change, agriculture and the natural environment. “What better way to ensure we upheld these values than by conducting a countywide contest for the logo design?” Hilary says.
A range of both professional and amateur artists submitted a total of eight designs to the committee. “Our youngest contestant was a 12-year-old from Pittsboro,” Hilary says. “The entries all drew inspiration from distinct dynamics of Chatham County, but especially from [its] beautiful natural landscapes.”
Sally Gregoire and her husband, Damon Gregoire, were celebrating an anniversary of their own – three years living in Pittsboro – when she first heard about the logo contest in September 2020. The couple met while attending the University of Vermont in the early 1990s and began their married life in Charlotte, North Carolina, before moving to Greenville, South Carolina, where they raised their three children (Emily, 25, Nick, 24, and Anna, 22). The newly minted empty nesters knew they wanted to spend the next phase of their lives near a creative college community, one with access to great health care, outdoor recreation and the arts. “We had always loved the Chapel Hill area, and because we spent the early years of our marriage in North Carolina, it was kind of like coming home,” Sally says.
Sally has always been interested in art, taking classes or workshops wherever possible, but she didn’t always have time to fully immerse herself in it. She’s found a creative home here, becoming a member of the Pittsboro Gallery of Arts and WomanCraft Gifts in Carrboro. “After a lifetime of working and being a mom, I’m lucky to be able to pursue my passion for art at this stage of my life,” she says.
Sally works predominantly with pen and ink, and she saw the logo contest as an opportunity to challenge herself. “I don’t normally incorporate color or create things that are symbolic, but I love nature and do consider myself an observer, so I thought I’d give it a shot,” she says.
Sally recalls fond memories of hiking Vermont’s lush mountains growing up, an experience that instilled a respect and love of the outdoors that helped inform her design. “I do a lot of hiking through different state parks and land conservancies these days, and our rivers and streams are such an important facet of life in Chatham County,” Sally says.
Her winning design features a river- strewn landscape in the shape of a postage stamp. Sally explains that the shape and subject matter illustrate two methods historically connected with each other: written communication and our waterways.
It was important to the committee that the winning design not only be attractive and distinctive, but also reflect the artist’s passion for Chatham County’s land and people. “With the themes of movement and connection between places and people, Sally’s design clearly emerged as the right fit for Chatham 250,” Hilary says. “Sally herself also represented all that we had hoped for in a contributing artist – someone who loves Chatham County and wanted to share their skills and talents with all of us for this special celebration.”
“Now we communicate so often through digital means, but I think a stamp is a great framework for the evolution of the past 250 years,” Sally explains. The mill tower and barn depicted in the design are an almost spectral presence, representing their place in the county’s agricultural history “I wanted it to feel fun, but also respectful,” she says, “a way of acknowledging our past, present and future with hope.”