Renegade Ninja Cowgirls: Kelly Petersen and Millicent Greason
Hand-painted signs in the exhibit
After the 9/11 attacks, Kelly Petersen and Millicent Greason hand-painted thoughtful signs to positively influence the mood of our city. For months, following the attacks, these signs magically appeared every few weeks around Winston-Salem. I was one of those people positively affected by these signs and I started collecting them. The signs are currently in the cases as you enter ZSR. These are some of the signs I saved from that troubling time and they still have meaning to me.
Kelly Petersen was one of the owners of DADA (Downtown Arts District Association). She owned several businesses in Winston-Salem, including Patina. Petersen created her own unique alphabet as part of her work. Petersen unfortunately died of breast cancer in 2009.
Millicent Greason, was the owner of Urban Artware on 6th Street , where she worked for 20 years. It closed in 2011.
Excerpt from a 2009 article in The Winston-Salem Journal:
The Cowgirls, originally an incognito operation, featured Petersen playing Ruby Montana and Greason as Sapphire Wyoming. The duo made hand-painted signs featuring “positive-propaganda” words such as “peace,” “love” and “smile” and attached them to street signs and telephone poles. The aim was to “wage war on negative-thought pollution.”
“You could call it a terrorist act of kindness,” Ruby told the Journal before her identity was revealed. “We won’t stop until we’re arrested. And then I guess we’ll ask the judge to give us some beautiful community-service project.”
“To see these words of hope and encouragement, and artistically done, was just really … interesting,” said Scott Wierman, the president of the Winston-Salem Foundation. The foundation awarded the duo an ECHO, or Everyone Can Help Out, award for building social capital in creative ways.