OSWEGO, NY – In an ironic twist, several artworks have been victimized by the very thing they are helping prevent.
In the spring of 2009, the Port City approved a plan that would enhance the waterfront while also helping to curtail the blight of graffiti that had been encroaching into the the Riverwalk west area.
The city formed a collaboration with Oswego High school to create murals in the Riverwalk corridor to brighten the area and prevent future ‘tagging’ of the area by graffiti artists.
The alliance spearheading the mural proposal included representatives from the school district, the 20/20 Arts Collaborative, the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau, Oswego County Opportunities, and the city’s Community Development Office.
Since then, dozens of colorful murals, some very large and others small, now adorn the walkway.
Recently it was discovered that someone using a can of black spray paint had obscenly defaced some of the smaller murals near the old railroad crossing just north of the Utica Street bridge – one of the darker areas of the riverwalk.
“Our murals along the riverwalk were tagged! First time in five years; and you can tell it was done by the same person. It’s all done in black spray paint. I’m very upset,” exclaimed Dawn Metott, youth activities coordinator, Oswego City-County Youth Bureau.
The vandalism likely took place in mid to late May, she added.
Metott is one of the adult volunteers who works with the young artists.
They are just starting up the mural project for the summer again and have more than 25 students interested in participating this year, she said, adding that nearly half of them are new students.
“It is so sad to see these paintings destroyed by someone(s) who don’t seem to care about all the hard work and time that these students put into them. The mural students spend hours and hours of their time painting these murals to help beautify our city and the riverfront,” she said. “They are not paid and voluntarily give up part of their summer to do this. As a community we need to step up and not tolerate this blatant disrespect for property and the work of others. I’d hate for this to be something that happens again after all the hard work the students put into them.”
Last year, over a two-day period, they had 23 volunteers put in a combined total of 70 hours to clean up the graffiti along both sides of the river.
“We used more than 13 gallons of paint costing $38 a gallon. So, if you figure paying minimum wage for the 70 hours that is $507.50 plus $494 for the gallons of paint equals $1,001.50 for just graffiti cleanup during the spring for only the riverwalks,” Metott said. “That’s a lot of time and money spent on cleaning up the graffiti.”
In 2012, 17 students completed 20 murals along the walls of the riverwalk.
“At our first mural meeting this year we have more than 25 students interested in participating,” Metott added.
Oswego is also home to several much larger murals celebrating the city’s veterans, Dr. Mary Walker, the lighthouse and the firefighters among others.