LONDONDERRY — It’s sign language that tells tales of past community life, fertile fields and farms, with an occasional political view tossed in.
These large signs have dotted the Londonderry landscape for years, making up exhibits of roadside art that speak to current events and other news of the day.
Andy Mack Sr., farm patriarch of Mack’s Apples, is the artist behind the signs and was featured in a weekend event hosted by the Londonderry Arts Council, putting a collection of Mack’s signs on display at the Mammoth Road farm stand while also giving insight into Mack’s long life and family farming history in town.
Titled “Sign Language,” the show featured the roadside signs created by Mack through the years that focus on farming, social issues, and a wide range of other topics.
Mack, 85, is an eighth-generation leader of the farm/orchard, a continuously run family venture since 1732. Also a lifelong Londonderry resident, Mack is also known for his community support, leadership and other contributions to Londonderry life.
Through the past decades, the signs have been a familiar site along Londonderry’s rural roadways and main stretches, often popping up during election seasons, or when there is a community event to be advertised.
Arts Council member Greg Descoteaux said putting Mack’s signs on display is a tribute to this man and his family’s long legacy in the town.
“These signs have been a staple of Londonderry for so long,” Descoteaux said, adding he had the opportunity to interview Mack prior to the sign exhibit.
That experience, Descoteaux said, was a way to get a glimmer into the life of the farm’s patriarch.
Signs are often simple, but all have the bold, large familiar lettering that people are now accustomed to seeing in Andy Mack sign art.
Signs are created in Mack’s workshop to advertise the farm’s products, the most recent apple to be in season, or just to offer a quick sentiment on something, like the weather, or even something in the news.
“And some of the signs have been absolutely essential for the business,” Mack said.
Mack is also known for more political sign images, giving insight into what he is thinking, including the climate, or other issues like human rights or government issues.
Mack’s farm stand and orchard have been a well-known stop for those running for political office, including local, state and federal candidates. Mack’s hosted several presidential candidates prior to the New Hampshire primary election this past February.
Signs would also show up during community elections, budget seasons, and other community events where Mack would offer an opinion in large, painted letters.
“They are thought-provoking,” Descoteaux said, adding the signs start discussions and get people talking, whether they agree or not.
For Mack, it all started as a simple sign he made out of an old apple box when he was a young boy, perched on a family mailbox to advertise apples for sale.
In the years since, Mack has continued to create signs on large panels of plywood in his workshop near the farm stand although he maintains he never considered himself an artist.
But Descoteaux said the signs are a form of art, of personal expression and a look into a man whose farming family dates back generations.
“You can just feel the joy he puts into it,” Descoteaux said.