September 26, 2011

Riverfront Park in Rensselaer

One of the things I liked best about a large painting event like Living Walls was having a place where everyone could paint. For Living Walls Albany that place was Riverfront Park in Rensselaer.

If you drive across the Dunn Memorial Bridge from Albany to Rensselaer you can't help but end up there. The off ramp even acts as a scenic route, twisting between pieces by LNY, Radical!, Doodles, and SoHo wheat paste veterans like Shin Shin.

The park has a bit of public art history too it as well. Back in the mid-90's, head honcho of LW Albany Samson Comtompasis' own mother, Jackie Brickman, spearheaded a movement to paint all the columns and give some life back to the place. Her organization RAMS (Rensselaer Arts Movement Society) made good with their word and before long the Riverfront Park had 162 murals.

Over the course of a decade and a half, many of the murals were beyond repair and the space in need of rejuvination. Luckily the timing was perfect and the Mayor of Rensselaer teamed up with Contompasis to bring the park up to speed with the contemporary art world. In a matter of days the Rensselaer Park was getting a facelift by most of the Living Walls participants and just like that, the baton was passed from mother to son.

More coverage by Brooklyn Street Art, Metroland, the Street Spot, and Vandalog. Also check out work by ND'A, Broken Crow, Nohj Coley, Clown Soldier, Depoe, and Never on their flickrs or whathaveya.
Labrona on the run


White Cocoa wheatpaste with OverUnder mural in the back.

White Cocoa

Doodles doesn't need a scissor lift...but it would be nice.

Detail of Doodles piece.

I get drunk on philosophy. But don't we all. Wheatpaste by OverUnder

I made two pieces down in the park. One was a multi-layered piece similar to the Helping Hand mural I made with No Touching Ground in Brooklyn. This time I painted a huge 16' tall brown bag draped around a corinthian column. To me, the city of Albany is exactly this!

On one hand you have a beautiful city holding onto its legacy shown through ornate architecture, gigantic plazas, beautiful parks, rolling hills and a behemoth river. (Oh and did I forget to mention it's the capital of New York, the most pivotal, populated, and recognized states in the country!)

On the other hand you have utter poverty. People are scraping by and every other building is boarded up. On one side of the street Habit for Humanity is putting up a pre-fab home and across the street they're tearing down a brownstone. I think if they used all the boards that are covering up the windows of vacated buildings they could build the largest homeless shelter known to mankind. Meanwhile people are living in the parking lot of a particular gas station on S. Pearl and carrying around brownbagged 22's like Emmys and Oscars.

So now the wheatpaste probably makes more sense, right? No, OK, well more specifically I was struck specifically by the NY State Education Building in downtown Albany. The entire side facing Washington Ave. is lined by Corinthian columns. Thirty-two in fact. I also learned that this building has the longest collonade of any building in the United States.

It just didn't seem to make any sense. This breath-taking, word-record setting building, that represented the Educational system of the greater state of NY within blocks of neighborhoods where the school system was a joke! I experienced firsthand working with kids at my tile mural the inadequacies of the school system. One of them got expelled on the first day, others didn't even bother to go. They knew that the whole thing was just a facade; Just another decorated illusion. Like a column with a terra cotta capital, capping off anything of value inside. So if anything, this is what I was thinking about when I made this piece.

I incorporated the pre-existing portrait of Trampy the dog into my hobo brewski for the under section of this painting. And wheatpasted this hefty corinthian brownbag over the top.
I also painted this wild style section at the entrance to the park.

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