By Mataeo Smith
Outside Art: Plattsburgh Public Art Project Co-Founder Julia Devine thought the City of Plattsburgh was lacking in art. Native to Philadelphia, the city of murals, Devine sought to give the city’s downtown area several drops of color.
She joined forces with artist Amy Guglielmo, known for her ability to educate and inspire young artists, in 2016 and attracted resident attention with tile-making events for the Mountain Lake Mandala mural on the outside of Our House Bistro, which honors the city’s Tibetan culture and community. Murals are still painted around the downtown area four years later. However, the latest art may be the most powerful, according to locals.
The migrations mural outside on Court Street portrays a majestic, blue tree heavily splattered with red dye. On the long branches, lay a plethora of birds from various corners of the earth its signature feature.
“The mural blends colorful creations by local artist Gharan Burton, born and raised on the Caribbean island of Dominica, and Amy Guglielmo, born and raised in Plattsburgh, New York,” Devine said. “The mural is dedicated to the immigrants and visitors to our city.”
Last Saturday, a team of artists made up of SUNY Plattsburgh international students, international artist residents, and local artists painted a variety of birds to symbolize Plattsburgh’s ever-growing multicultural and intercultural community according to Devine. The endeavor lasted for four days.
Some of the birds depicted in the mural include: parrot, zebra finch, North American finch, goose, nuthatch, blue bird, heron, chickadee, crow, arctic tern, cardinal, dove, kievit, owl, red winged blackbird, female mallard duck, garlic rooster, loon, peacock, hummingbird, robin, oriole, pelican and many more.
In the future, Devine plans to have more birds pop up in unexpected places downtown. In the works is a site where you can learn about each artist and the bird they painted.
“As an instructor at SUNY Plattsburgh in the theatre and English departments and former coordinator for the short-lived Center for Community Engagement at the college,” Devine said, “I’ve always been passionate about involving students in the community. The students bring so much life and culture to our small town.”
SUNY Plattsburgh art major Winosha Steele Micheal said she braved the dry, intense Plattsburgh heat in order to paint the beautiful frigate bird, one native to her hometown island Antigua. Micheal spent four days painting a cardinal to represent SUNY Plattsburgh, the frigate bird and the Jamaican doctor bird as per request by Island Vybez owner Showayne Telfer. Telfer owns the only convenience store with Jamaican products like drinks and cuisine within miles of the North Country. He wanted Micheal to paint the doctor bird to symbolize his and his family’s existence within the downtown area. Micheal agreed and added the doctor bird to her list.
“I feel like the mural welcomes everyone to Plattsburgh,” he said. “It’s good for the community, and I can teach my daughter about her heritage.”
The migrations mural can be found on the outside wall of 17 Court St. near the town hall area.