Birds of a Mural: Artwork honors local diversity

ROBIN CAUDELL/STAFF PHOTOForty artists have painted more than 50 birds from all around the world on the “Migrations Mural” located at 17 Court St. in the city.

PLATTSBURGH – On a yellow scaffold, Winosha Steele worked comfortably painting a frigatebird for the “Migrations Mural” on the east wall of 17 Court St. in the city.

The mural is the latest commission by Outside Art: The Plattsburgh Public Art Project.

“I'm painting the frigatebird from Antigua and Barbuda,” Steele, a SUNY Plattsburgh BFA major said.

“It's our national bird. It's doesn't actually fly around Antigua but mainly Barbuda, but they're sister islands.

Steele wanted to participate because she's become attached to the Plattsburgh community through the college.

“I felt like this experiment or event they're doing is an event that I would love to be a part of to leave my mark and spread information about my country,” she said.

Steele painted a cardinal for the college and also a doctor bird, Jamaica's national bird.

Outside Arts co-founder Amy Guglielmo said the goal is to jazz up City Hall Place with this mural as well as Jimmy Golovach's “Smiling Sun” sculptural mural located on the Smoked Pepper's exterior wall.

The birds mural specifically celebrates the diversity of people that have moved here or passed through the Plattsburgh community.

Lead artist on the project is Gharan Burton, who is a native of Dominica and a Plattsburgh State alum.

“Amy and the Plattsburgh Outside Art Group asked me to help out with the mural,” Burton said.

“Since I am an immigrant in the community, and we're doing the migrations mural, I think it's important for me to work on that.”

The wall was pressure washed and vines were removed to prepare the surface.

“Then, prime it and work on the background colors and stuff, and then paint the tree.”

Burton painted the tree with arching branches that cover the expanse of the wall.

The higher elevations feature a parrot by Burton and a turkey vulture by Joe Ferris, a cartoonist who lives in Willsboro.

“I picked the hummingbird because I have some, and they are just colorful and fun," Meaghan Paugh, a city resident, said.

More than 50 birds were painted by 40 artists.

“Representing different cultures and countries from all over the world,” Guglielmo said.

“A lot of SUNY students are involved, some SUNY staff. We're excited to feature as many artists as we can with this project.

“It's a perfect opportunity, and we hope this continues. It's something that can grow by having birds all over downtown.”

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