By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — Some of the special qualities of downtown Oneonta will be on display thanks to a mural project underway at the Greater Oneonta Historical Society, two of those involved said Sunday.
At GOHS, where the work will be placed on the Dietz Street wall when completed in spring, artist Carol Mandigo talked about the project along with GOHS Executive Director Bob Brzozowski. She worked on the first wooden panel of the project, Galinn’s jewelry store, on Saturday. Work is scheduled to continue on Tuesday from noon to 3 p.m. Mandigo is sketching and underpainting the various wooden boards that make up the murals. Treadwell artist Frank Anthony will do the painting based on the photos of Jason Sexton of Oneonta.
The effort is funded by a state Council on the Arts Decentralization Grant administered by the Chenango Arts Council, as well as donations from Main Street Oneonta and several private donors.
Galinn’s was the last occupant of the 183 Main St. building before it was purchased by GOHS, Brzozowski said. The murals that will be mounted show scenes from all the businesses at the location since it was built in 1866. In chronological order this is: Brown’s Hardware, Wilber Bank, Laskaris’ Restaurant, and Jo-Ann Dress Shop. Each mural will be a scene of everyday life at the location.
Brzozowski had been thinking about the project for a while. When Mandigo considered the work, she was encouraged by former Oneonta resident Cynthia Marsh, who, along with Jennie Williams has painted other murals at downtown locations, to contact him.
“We had the same idea but it was his dream,” Mandigo said.
Witnessing the community interest in supporting and being a part of the project reminded her “what Oneonta is all about, and what we are trying to preserve here.”
Brzozowski is chairman of the Main Street Oneonta Design Committee, as well as a city councilman.
“We’ve been promoting murals as a way to add to the vibrancy of downtown,” he said. “If you look at old photos of Oneonta, it was full of commercial art. We are trying to bring that back.”
Mandigo said murals have been used in other communities to transform downtown. She is glad to be part of the effort.
The grant was announced in March, but work got seriously underway in July.
The first two wooden panels should be completed by the end of the year, with the rest completed in the spring. Brzozowski said he was hopeful the effort will encourage other downtown murals.
Mandigo said, “We want to make sure it’s perfect because it will be there for so long.”