Newburgh Sporting New Colors With Mural

Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM – 05/08/12

CITY OF NEWBURGH — Newburgh’s art gallery is outside, and it’s getting a whole new collection.
Check out the wall of the Ritz Theater for the latest addition. Dasic Fernandez, an international star of the graffiti art world, began the 61-foot-tall piece “Transcendence” on Wednesday and expects to finish by the end of this week. It’s the first of five murals the Chilean-born artist expects to finish in the city by mid-summer.
“I’m going to put all my energy and all my experience into Newburgh,” Fernandez said.
He’s working on behalf of the Newburgh Mural Project, a city-wide art boom supported by a collection of individuals and non-profits, including such heavy hitters as the Ford Foundation.
This is the group’s first big project. It’s called “Life in Colors” and designed to give Newburgh a new look.
Karen Mejia, director of community partnerships for the Greater Newburgh Partnership, said they plan to stage the murals at different gateways to Newburgh. “Transcendence” is going up on the wall of the Ritz Theater, overlooking an empty lot at Liberty Street and Broadway in the heart of Newburgh’s downtown.
Mejia hopes the addition of the new murals to others, such as those on the railroad trestle along the waterfront, will build the city’s reputation as a mural hot spot.
Fernandez’s work graces cities all over the world. He now lives in the Bronx and had traveled through Newburgh with his girlfriend, who is from New Windsor. He spotted the empty wall two years ago and knew it would make a great host for a mural. He said he inquired then but learned it was reserved for something else.
A chance meeting with Newburgh resident Decora Sandiford led to his inclusion in the Newburgh Mural Project, and now he finally gets to paint the wall he saw two years ago.
Trisha Haggerty Wenz is the founder and executive director of Safe Harbors of the Hudson and Ritz Theater. Her organizations raised half of the $12,000 for “Transcendence” through local foundations and grants. The Institute for International Education, with support from the Ford Foundation, matched it. She said the mural is a perfect fit for Safe Harbors, which runs the Ann Street Gallery and incorporates other arts programs.
Like other nonprofits that will soon become mural sites, Safe Harbors collaborated with Fernandez on the theme. Members of the Boys & Girls Club will take that a step further and partner with Fernandez on a mural called “Freedom.”
All five murals are expected to be finished by mid-June.
dmurphy@th-record.com

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