Creative marketing for good businesses and good causes

 Commitment to the arts

This annual report designed for The MacDowell Colony was written by the inimitable Lael Wertenbaker with cover artwork by Robert Motherwell.


The MacDowell Colony annual report project was an adventure even before it started.

I had been working at Markem Corporation as the Training & Communications Manager where I had the privilege of being part of a production team which included Ruth Kellom, an excellent editor, and Lael Wertenbaker, a renowned writer. Together we produced a publication called Markem’s World which communicated and chronicled for posterity many aspects of that company’s worldwide business.

Lael had been a colonist at MacDowell, which is how she ended up in New Hampshire. Through MacDowell, Lael met Dave and Rosamund Putnam, members of Markem’s founding family and longtime colony supporters. Dave hired Lael for Markem’s World and Ruth Kellom and Lael hired me.

In 1986, I took a leave of absence from Markem to give birth to my son Harland. Two weeks later, Lael asked me if I would be her designer for the colony’s 36-page annual report. The challenge involved setting up my studio, arranging some child care help (thank you Keene Family YMCA) and unexpectedly becoming a business owner—because the next “freelance” job arrived in just a few weeks and business kept finding its way here.

This annual report was typeset at Wallace Press in Milford, NH, later affiliated with Reprographics in Concord, NH. Allied Printing in Connecticut printed the books. Medalist Robert Motherwell graciously allowed his artwork to be used on the cover. I studied his compositions to find a layout and color that would reflect Motherwell’s work; the result is a very unusual dulled-down salmon color, which remains attractive today.

Each year since 1980, I have attended the annual Medal Day open house at MacDowell–the one day of the year when the colony grounds welcome visitors. By attending those memorable outings with Lael, I was introduced to many illustrious achievers, including John Updike and Philip Roth, as well as the fascinating artists in residence who open their studios and share their works in progress.

MacDowell Medal Day has become the “company picnic” for Sterling Design & Communications. In going, I pay tribute to dear Lael Wertenbaker who sternly and strongly encouraged my work. I also reflect on the road not taken, because as an art major at Bucknell University I thought I would be a fine arts practitioner. The speechmakers at Medal Day bring brilliant commentary on the arts and the world to the tent in Peterborough and I gobble up every word connecting me to New York and beyond.

Friends, clients, coworkers and colleagues are encouraged to join us in this celebration of the state of the arts, each August at MacDowell Medal Day.