LAKE GEORGE, NY (NEWS10) — Artist Shay DeRusso was retouching the fur of a sunset-lit moose right in the middle of Canada Street on Thursday. The moose didn’t care; he, along with birds and other Adirondack animals, was painted on three sides of a road sign cabinet downtown in the village.
“I think the world is in this kind of turmoil right now, and art is therapy,” DeRusso said, holding a paintbrush between her fingers as she worked under an umbrella sticking out of a painted cart. containing all the tools of his trade. “I think it’s a great way for the community to come together and showcase artwork and artists.”
DeRusso, a Glens Falls-based artist whose work can be found from Lake George south to Albany, was one of four artists chosen for the “Power Up Lake George” project. The Lake George Arts Project and the Village announced the project earlier this year, targeting four electrical boxes along Canada Street for a public art project. Each is hand painted just in time for summer, and the art should last three to five years.
DeRusso’s art, located on the south corner of Shepard Park, occupies three sides of its box. One side, already completed on Thursday, shows Lake George in winter. The moose, which she hoped to complete by the end of the day, is part of a summer scene. A sketch on the other side shows the arrival of autumn. DeRusso said the biggest challenge was not conceptual, but rather material.
“Basically it was just about finding the right paint that would work and the right products that would keep it on the can for 3-5 years. I think that was the hardest part.
At the other end of Shepard Park, fellow artist Miranda Kent was hard at work creating a bouquet at the corner of Canada and Amherst streets. As an art teacher at Glens Falls High School, Kent didn’t get a chance to start until Saturday. They’ve been walking past Duffy’s Tavern for up to 7 or 8 hours a day ever since.
“All are birth flowers,” Kent explained, pointing to some of the colorful flower arrangements displayed on their assigned box. “Everyone has a flower on them that represents themselves in some way. I hope people can put that together.
To help passers-by do just that, Kent plans to label the flowers with their names and the birth months associated with them. As of Thursday noon, there were a few flowers left to color on one side – wrapping flowers from January on one side to December on the other. Kent’s goal was to create something universal – less about Lake George in particular, and more something that everyone can relate to and appreciate, no matter where in the world they come from.
For Kent, the public art project is a first. They’ve been making art since childhood, selling commissions and working on websites like Etsy and Redbubble since college, but the “Power Up Lake George” project is their first foray into public art — and it which they hope to be a springboard to a new phase in their artistic career.
“It’s super, super cool,” Kent said. “It was really daunting to start – I was worried, ‘What if I want to quit, what if people don’t like it, what if it doesn’t look good?’ But almost immediately I started getting compliments from people, I was treated like a celebrity – which is weird, but really cool.
Laughing, Kent admitted it was scary to tell family, friends and even art students in Glens Falls that they had applied for a project like this – but having people in the know makes it all the more rewarding, even when the sun is hot and the paint dries quickly. The “Power Up” project was open to any artist, with few requirements for a pre-established portfolio. For Kent, this factor became the open door they needed to spread their art, inspire their students and meet more other artists in the region.
Further up Canada Street, past a row of hotels and Lake George Jr. – Sr. High School, another such artist was leaving her mark on a sign post outside the Lake Haven Motel. Erin Gregory of Clifton Park stood under a tarp not giving much shade during the afternoon and considered where to add the next patch of white spray on the fast running water of Shelving Rock Falls in Log Bay .
“I was very surprised by the paint textures for an exterior mural, compared to an interior mural,” said Gregory – who previously created a similar project inside the Lake George Beach Club. “It’s fun, though, in natural light, to see it all.”
Gregory works full time around his art, and so has been making late afternoon trips to Lake George every day for the past week, working until the evening. Its box is located just before Route 9 veers north up the lake to Bolton Landing, passing dozens of hotels and other types of accommodation visited by new visitors to the island each week. out of town. This means that many passers-by who stopped to admire his work saw it as they entered the village, as one of the first highlights of a long day in the village.
Shelving Rock’s connection is not accidental. The waterfall Gregory was working on on Thursday, with white spaces where she plans to add cubs along the rocks, is inspired by the area near her parents’ summer home in the Diamond Point area of Lake George . A second side – facing the Lake Haven Motel – shows animals resting by a river. A third, facing north, remains to be painted, but will enhance the course.
The location may seem a little more clandestine than the two works in progress around Shepard Park – or the already completed box in front of the Lake George Visitors Center. However, Gregory felt as welcome as her peers by the community and visitors – as well as by the motel, which allowed her to use its parking lot and facilities as needed on several hot afternoons. It has been particularly helpful as Gregory – who married in Lake George last year – is expecting his first child.
“He’s here, painting with me,” she said.
Lake George is far from the only site in the North Country where public art comes to life. In Glens Falls, a city art trail project has spawned public art about electrical boxes, and this summer is set to follow with a trio of large-scale mural projects. Another project in the city was painted by art students from Glens Falls High School, who finished last week. Kent, who has taught at Glens Falls for the past two years, knows just about every student who has laid a brush on the building – which was under construction in Glens Falls when they planned to start construction. Lake George.
“Seeing my art and the art of my students in public in the area really gave me a deeper connection to this place,” they said. “I’m so grateful to Glens Falls, Lake George, to have been able to start a life and find a job here – everything.”
Kent works with art teacher Sue Botch, who organized the school’s mural project. They are not the only ones who know the name. Back at the other end of Shepard Park, DeRusso recalls her own time learning Botch years ago when she herself was an art student at Glens Falls High School.
“I love it,” DeRusso said. “Any chance for kids or adults to get into art – like I said, art is therapy. It’s healing. And so I think that’s great.