The bad news is, I'm too busy working with my clients to create new content for this blog. The good news is, I have copies of a bunch of posts I created for a community blog that were lost from that site through a technology glitch. Here's an example from June, 2019.
The presence of art in the public eye changes the way one experiences a city. From bold, monumental murals to unexpected moments of whimsy, public art can enliven streetscapes and engage visitors and residents alike.
The Arts Center of the Capital Region (ACCR) has been working with stakeholders from the City of Troy and beyond for years, and in ways large and small, their vision is now becoming reality. A key component of their Public Art Program is community engagement – so pick a project and get involved!
Breathing New Life into Franklin Alley
Today, Franklin Alley is an underutilized relic of the 19th century alleys that connected Troy’s bustling thoroughfares – Broadway and River Street. But soon, thanks to a major public art project, Franklin Alley will be a downtown destination.
The Franklin Alley Pedestrian Walkway Mural project will connect restaurants and cultural venues and transform a vacant alley into a new gathering space for residents and visitors alike.
“Urban alleyways tell stories,” said Elizabeth Reiss, CEO of ACCR. “They are living environments inhabited by old fire escapes, boarded windows and graffitied doors, all evoking the lives of those who passed through them. Franklin Alley will help tell Troy’s story – past, present and future.”
Internationally known mural artist Joe Iurato has been chosen for the Franklin Alley project. A multidisciplinary artist whose works are built on a foundation of stencils and aerosol, Iurato’s murals have enlivened neighborhoods along the east coast United States for years. More recently, he’s become known for the unique placement and photography of miniature painted wood cutouts in public spaces.
The ACCR and Iurato are working to ensure that the mural is informed by a wide variety of experiences and voices. The Franklin Alley team includes elected officials, City employees, building owners, historians, residents, artists and youth program participants. The Arts Center will host a public forum to discuss the project with the artist on Wednesday, June 26 at 265 River Street in Troy at 6:00 p.m.
Troy Mayor Patrick Madden said, “Public art is more than paint on a wall or statue on a sidewalk – it’s a way to bring together neighbors, families, and community organizations to enhance the Collar City’s reputation as a cultural and creative hub in the Capital District. The City of Troy is pleased to partner with the Arts Center of the Capital Region to advance the Troy Master Plan for Public Art, an important effort which will enhance the vibrancy of our community.”
According to Reiss, “The Franklin Alley project as a demonstration of best practices for placemaking. Unfortunately, we’ve seen communities install murals without reference to their environment or their neighbors. The ACCR is working as a community for the community, and we hope this will serve as a model for other public art programs.”
Once the design is created, Iurato will install the artwork, working with his crew as well as artists and young people from the planning team. The mural will be unveiled in September to dovetail with the Downtown BID’s Restaurant and Craft Brew week and the launch of a marketing campaign by the Troy Cultural Alliance.
The Franklin Alley Pedestrian Walkway Mural project is just one component of ACCR’s comprehensive public art program. Additional efforts in the pipeline include:
Throughout Troy, public art will support efforts where planning and placemaking come together to create lively community spaces. “Through this public art program, the Arts Center itself has undergone an institutional transformation,” said Reiss. “Our Public Art Program is a manifestation of connecting community to the arts. We’re so grateful to our sponsors for their support of this project, including: NYSCA; the Troy Savings Bank Charitable Foundation; the Troy Redevelopment Foundation; the Upstate Theater Coalition for a Fairgame and generous members of our community.”
According to the Troy Master Plan for Public Art’s vision statement:
Public art in Troy will not be seen as a simple amenity. Instead, it will be viewed as a vital platform for innovative experimentation and curious exploration that becomes a part of Troy’s creative and civic ecosystem – tapping into and uplifting the perception that Troy is the creative city in the Capital Region.
So, now’s your chance! Head over to Troy and take part in art!
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Colleen M. Ryan is an