The art of the community mural

Public artworks are part of the public realm, and the public should be part of the process, which was what happened over the last 18 months in Poughkeepsie, NY. The Poughkeepsie Route 9 underpass at Main Street was a dark, stained, gray concrete place that all visitors to the city had to pass under, is now embellished with a mural created by Risa Tochigi, known as half of the BoogieREZ artist team. Boogie and her partner REZ (T.C. Weaver) are the dynamic duo that are creating some of the most original murals and artworks in the region. Boogie creates the concept and the realization of the murals with REZ lending the critical support that every creative artist needs, while documenting the process. A gifted photographer, REZ provided the photos that accompany this article.

4. Enjoy! planet brz 5_96463This mural was named The Poughkeepsie Gateway Project and began with a public call for artists to envision what they could create on the underpass, which serves as one of the major gateways to Poughkeepsie. The collaborative effort included The Poughkeepsie Alliance, who sponsored the majority of costs for the project. Arts Mid-Hudson served as the organizing partner and O+ Festival brought in connections of mural artists and paint sponsor, Golden Artist Colors. Boogie is completing the mural with paint donated by Golden Artist Colors, using a combination of custom-mixed paints in buckets and spray paints. The City of Poughkeepsie and the New York Department of Transportation actively worked to ensure the project was complying with municipal and state regulations through the work of numerous staff from these offices. Local business Baxter Construction assisted with lifts and preparation of the site, which included the concrete spaces directly under Route 9 on each side.

These collaborations were critical to making the project move ahead. Boogie commented, “Without everyone you can’t do big projects like this.” REZ added, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” Boogie mentioned the positive energy that is created in doing a large-scale public artwork like this: “I feel like I am not doing this for me, but for the community.”

And the community approves – in the times I was present at the mural location, people stopped by to thank Boogie for the beautiful reimagination of the space. Many parents have been bringing their children to the site and encouraging them to meet Boogie and thank her for the artwork.

Boogie’s signature style blends joyful, bright colors with a hip-hop cartoon vibe. The yellow background serves as a cheery base color for flowers and imaginary animals with big googly eyes marching across the expanse. Boogie’s world includes ducks with bunny ears, flowers with eyes and other creatures straight out of the artist’s imagination. Uplifting messages, such as “Aspire to Inspire” are woven into the composition. Boogie mentioned that one aspect of her job as an artist is to “continue to inspire the youth in our community to pursue their passions. Everyone has different ways to express themselves.”

Katherine Hite, a neighboring resident was passing by during my visit and commented, “We’re so excited to see this uplifting and affirming project for Poughkeepsie – it makes me happy to be a homeowner in the city.”

This article was originally published in the Poughkeepsie Journal’s Enjoy Magazine on August 10, 2018. 

The Poughkeepsie Gateway Mural Project is located on Main Street at the Route 9 underpass in Poughkeepsie.

All photos are copyright and courtesy of Rezones/Boogierez 2018.1.Enjoy! planet brz 5_96454

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