New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas today announced the unveiling of two new public art murals in downtown Albany, which were funded as part of the city’s $10 million award in the third round of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s statewide Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Through the DRI award, the city provided $72,000 award to the Capital Walls mural project to add four murals in total to the Clinton Square neighborhood.
“These absolutely beautiful and awe-inspiring murals are a welcome addition that will attract new attention to Columbia Street,” Commissioner Visnauskas said. “We are so pleased to see this $72,000 award breathing new life into the Clinton Square area and fulfilling Governor Cuomo’s vision of how cities can utilize Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds in ways that fit the unique needs of the community. Congratulations to Jade Warrick and BoogieREZ for this amazing contribution to Albany.”
The two completed murals encompass 3,300-square-feet on two properties at 39 and 45 Columbia Street, owned by Redburn Development Partners. The additional two murals will begin in 2021.
The mural at 39 Columbia Street is titled “Escape to Nature: Where Peace Awaits” and was created by Jade Warrick, a Capital Region-based visual designer who has founded and co-led community art programs including Amplified Voices, a collaborative public art program amplifying the voices of local artists of color while also providing youth mentoring opportunities.
The mural at 45 Columbia Street is titled “Suwubona” and was created by BoogieREZ, a Poughkeepsie- and Brooklyn-based artistic duo comprised of Riiisa Boogie and Rezones. Their work includes murals, photography, illustration, and woodworking. Suwubona means "I see you, you are important to me, and I value you” in Zulu.
The Albany Center Gallery, Albany Barn, and Downtown Albany Business Improvement District collaborated in development, management, and execution of the Capital Walls mural project. The $72,000 DRI award was administered by HCR.
Announced as a third round recipient, Albany’s DRI award funds 12 projects and leverages $100 million in additional public and private development including the Capital Walls mural project, Skyway Gateway, Ida Yarbrough home ownership, and the Clinton Market Collective.
New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, “These new murals in the heart of Albany’s Clinton Square add to the vibrancy of the community. Public art plays a valuable role in the revitalization of downtowns across the state by enhancing the unique culture and history of each location. The Department of State is proud to work with the City and our agency partners to help invigorate Albany through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.”
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner, and President & CEO-delegate Eric Gertler said, "The Downtown Albany public art project adds colorful life to prominent buildings in the Clinton Square neighborhood. This complements the efforts underway - through ESD's public-private partnership with Redburn Development, and the Downtown Revitalization Initiative - to breathe new life into the area."
Senator Neil Breslin said, “I want to congratulate artists Jade Warrick and BoogieREZ on the work they have done to add to the beauty of downtown Albany. Bringing art into our public spaces is a transformational way to engage the community by fostering creativity and a strong sense of place for residents and visitors alike.”
Assembly Member Patricia Fahy said, “These murals are more than just public art. Urban art designs such as these help to foster and grow a sense of community identity, belonging, and pride. As we strive to continue making Albany a more walkable, greener, and interconnected city than before — widespread public art projects are a vital component of that process. I commend the selection of these projects by the Downtown Revitalization Initiative for state funding and look forward to seeing the final result.”
Assembly Member John T. McDonald III, said, “I am thrilled to participate in today’s unveiling of these public art murals by Jade Warrick and BoogieREZ. Not only do the pieces add to the overall appearance of the neighborhood by promoting an inviting atmosphere, they also capture the vibrant culture found in our Downtown Albany community. Governor Cuomo’s DRI funding allows cities to redefine themselves in the new economy and support growth that will be felt across the entire region. This opportunity for growth is essential as our small cities continue to navigate the challenges associated with the ongoing pandemic.”
Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, "These murals are a welcome addition to the downtown Albany streetscape. Governor Cuomo's commitment to local investment through the DRI initiative will substantially enhance the gateway to the Capital City's Downtown. These public art pieces not only serve as a collaboration with our local artists, but invigorate our historic architecture making downtown a vibrant hub of connectivity that is more attractive to future investors."
Albany Center Gallery Executive Director and Capital Walls Curator Tony Iadicicco said, "We continually seeks to inspire interest in and interaction with works of art. It’s no secret that public art adds vitality to a community, and we are thrilled to add these artists to the Capital Walls family through BoogieREZ's first Capital Region mural and Jade Warrick's first large-scale, solo mural. Art has the power to create change, uplift and inspire those who experience it. We are thankful to shine a light on creatives as they share their stories and talents with all who see their work. It is vitally important to make public spaces available to artists and artwork. As with all of our murals, collaboration continues to make Capital Walls possible, including support for this project from New York State, the City of Albany, Redburn Development Partners, Albany Barn, and Downtown Albany BID.”
Albany Barn Executive Director Kristen Holler said, “It’s amazing to think that a conversation with Albany Parking Authority that started as an idea to invest in placemaking by beautifying necessary amenities like parking, has blossomed into an invaluable partnership with Albany Center Gallery and gained the support of the City of Albany and State of New York. The success of Capital Walls sends a clear message that art and artists can and should play a critical, leading role in conversations about community and economic development, and that communities that invest in their creative class can see beautiful and immediate returns on that investment.”
Redburn Development Partners Principal Jeff Buell said, "Redburn's vision for our downtown Albany portfolio has always encompassed the creation of energizing residential, commercial, and public spaces aimed at inspiring shared experiences. Working to creatively re-imagine properties is in our blood, and we are thrilled to offer larger-than-life canvases to these incredible artists."
Mural Artist Jade Warrick said, “Art remains a strong contender of how we share our thoughts and ideas. It has the possibility of changing one’s thoughts, opening new ideas, and educating where the system has failed. For my mural, the theme is self-love in nature. The image I created visualizes a young black woman surrounded by nature, flowers wrapped around her, a butterfly rest on her finger, representing tranquility and serenity. Nature is an escape, where my black ancestors thrived. Nature, for me, breeds creativity and is a source of self-reflection, providing an escape from the political events/ stereotypes that surround BIPOC 24/7."
Mural Artist Riiisa Boogie said, "I love to learn as much as I can about various cultures and all that I soak up is represented in my art. Beautiful African and Japanese patterns and techniques are highlighted, the sneaker culture of history, beauty and depth is on full display, and as always nature is an integral part of every piece I create. The connection with others by sharing stories through my artwork allows me to grow beyond measure. I deeply appreciate the interaction and communication that happens as a result."
About the Downtown Revitalization Initiative
In 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo launched a major new initiative—the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). Through the DRI, the Governor moved to aggressively accelerate and expand the revitalization of downtowns to serve as centers of activity and catalysts for investment in all ten regions of the state. The DRI represents an unprecedented and innovative plan-to-act strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation.
In the first four years of the DRI, the State has committed $400 million to invest in downtowns that are ripe for revitalization and have the potential to become magnets for redevelopment, business, job creation, greater economic and housing diversity, and opportunity. Participating communities are nominated by the state's ten Regional Economic Development Councils based on the downtown's potential for transformation, and each community is awarded $10 million to develop a downtown strategic investment plan and implement key catalytic projects that advance the community's vision for revitalization. The DRI is chaired by New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. Communities receive support from private sector experts and a team of state agency staff led by the Department of State in close partnership with Empire State Development, and NYS Homes and Community Renewal. Other agencies are also involved in reviewing and implementing projects.
Capital Walls, launched in 2016 to elevate both public art and artists, has resulted in over a dozen murals across the Capital City and features both locally-based and nationally-renowned artists.
Capital Walls has worked with artists to elevate the cultural profile of downtown Albany with uplifting, educational, and thought-provoking murals and works of public art that help create a sense of place that is attractive to a broad audience of residents, commuters, and visitors. Capital Walls is made possible through a partnership of Albany Center Gallery, the Albany Barn, and the Albany Parking Authority.