OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The student-created mural along West Riverwalk, under the Rail Trail Bridge, is about to get some company.
The Common Council is considering allowing a group of six more teen-age artists to display their work in that area.
A mural committee was formed at the mayor’s request earlier this year. The intent was to engage youth (graffiti) taggers and non-taggers to beautify the city’s riverwalk areas with artwork and to discourage continued graffiti in the area.
The mural committee has expanded to include Oswego County Opportunities Youth Services along with the previous collaborators including the Oswego Arts Collaborative, the Youth Bureau, various local artists and community youth, according to John Belt, of OCO.
The Community Development Office had $2,000 allocated for city beautification projects.
“Due to a very generous donation by Raby’s Ace Home Center and a parent of one of the student artists, the last mural project cost only $830. Therefore, Community Development has $1,270 remaining in the fund for the project,” Linda Goodness, assistant director of Community Development, told the councilors.
The Springboard Mural Committee has agreed that it can create mural panels for a section of the riverwalk that may be completed with that budget, she pointed out.
The committee will also seek additional donations from local businesses and is preparing a grant application through the Cultural Resources Council for funding future mural projects and engaging more youth.
Six local youth have already prepared some sample artworks and are excited to be part of the project, according to Goodness.
The proposed mural project is intended for the concrete retaining wall along the lower riverwalk in the area below the first mural, Belt explained.
The students have talked with city officials about their artwork, Goodness said, adding, “They have some very creative ideas about what they want to see in their community.”
She recently presented some pieces to the councilors so they could see for themselves what the students are considering.
Since the project involves the use of city property, the artwork suggestions need to be council approved.
“It’s a wonderful collaboration between several local artists, OCO Youth Services, Youth Bureau, the city and the college,” Goodness said. “We’ve been very lucky to have such active participation in our group.”
Councilor Mike Joyce said he’d like to see the project have a common theme.
“I think that is key as we go forward,” he said.
The committee wants to bring youth artists into the community and allow them to have a voice in the community, in a positive way, Goodness said.
“I think this is such a great opportunity for our youth, youth artists to give them a voice,” Belt added. “It could change their mindset of how they see themselves to have some of their inside creative stuff represented externally where you can actually see it.”
The student artists see this project as “painting the city’s storefront’ it has to be something that is appropriate, but they can use their voice as well.
“This is a phenomenal springboard for the young artists. And I certainly hope that they are getting the message across; when you see a city step forward and allow this type of activity, I think it is starting to form a good movement,” said Councilor Sue Sweet. “I think that this is something that is really, really tremendous.
Mayor Randy Bateman said he’d seen a couple articles in magazines that indicated if the kids do a project such as this, all the kids will respect it.
“Originally, we had an idea of doing this four-foot concrete wall here, all the way down Linear Park,” he said at the June unveiling of the first mural. “The feedback was let’s do a big mural project first, to draw attention to it. Then, maybe this summer or next year we can work on the concrete wall.”
The wall had been spray painted with graffiti in several places.
“The idea was to get the first project done. It is far enough up in the air so that nobody should be able to mess with it,” Bateman said. “It is a good sign, the kids are proud of it, we’re proud that they did it.”