Utica Mayor Robert M. Palmieri and artist Steven Teller announced the completion of the mural at Liberty Corner. The mural took just over 90 days to complete, required hundreds of can of spray paint and was document on social media by residents across the Mohawk Valley.
Teller’s concept includes a river of roses and local wildflowers in dynamic colors that symbolize the diversity and vibrancy of Utica’s population. The colors are contrasted with curated black and white images of Utica’s past, reminding viewers of Utica’s rich history. These pictures show the Utica Belt Line Trolly, textile workers and the Pickett boat, pulled by horses down the Erie Canal. The two horses that pull the boat hold a strong presence in the eastern corner of the mural.
Bluebirds and roses, the New York State bird and flower, represent Utica’s importance to New York State as a whole. The mural also features abstract forms and pops of color that stand-in for the diversity and vibrance of Utica’s residents.
Teller made some adjustments to his winning concept including:
- Adding buildings from the old skyline of Bagg’s Square.
- Adding native local wildflowers to the river of flowers flowing across the historic scenes on the wall.
- Adding more colors and changing the positioning of objects to make for a more dynamic design.
During his residency, Teller has fallen in love with halfmoons, the Adirondacks and he has developed a following of residents and friends that he will keep for years beyond his work in Utica. The Ft. Lauderdale native learned about the history of Utica while researching his designed and spent most of his time next to the historic Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Utica, greeting staff and visitors daily.
Last Fall, the City began structural work on the wall that necessitated the removal of the iconic “Sunburst” mural. The City released a nation-wide call for artists interested in the developing a new mural to submit their qualifications. Twenty-eight artists and artist teams expressed interest in the project. A public art committee then reviewed the submissions and selected four muralists with experience in completing large-scale work in a similar time frame this project requires.
In addition to the mural project, Mayor Palmieri announced last week a redesign of Liberty Bell Park to include a mosaic globe, an etched compass, multiple chess tables, new benches, a new tree line and a signpost that represents Utica’s diverse cultures. Taken together, the upgrades represent a complete reimagining of the park space. The park improvements are a result of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and a State and Municipal Facilities Grant.
Utica Mayor Robert M. Palmieri said: “When we realized we had to repair the wall and replace the old mural, we knew the significance the busy corner has in the hearts of Utica. My instructions were simple: the public should have a say and we want the best in the world for them to choose from. Mr. Teller is clearly one of the best mural artists in the world and the art he produced for Utica will be significant far outside of the city limits. It’s only natural that the best little city in America involves some of the best public art in America.”
Artist Steven Teller said: “I was excited when I won the opportunity to create art in a place that has so much meaning and historical significance. The size and the significance of this project were both massive and the challenge excited me. Even though I painted on some cold days, the warmth of the people of Utica is what I will remember most about this project. It was difficult and challenging, but it was the people that made this project so fun and rewarding. Utica is a very special and Unique place, and I hope that all of the work, heart and affection came out in the art I produced. I’m sure I will be back to Utica one day. Until then, I hope that the work I left provides memories and contributes to the rich culture I came to love.”
Councilperson Katie Aiello said: “I’m grateful I was able to have a first-hand glimpse watching the mural come to life each day. Over the last couple months, I watched so many residents stop to give him food, heaters, drinks and conversation — that’s the part of Utica and the First District that means the most to me. Steven Teller is an amazing artist, and Liberty Corner is an incredible canvas. The way he captured Utica’s unique history and brought this space to life is truly captivating. I’m sure that his work will be the backdrop for photoshoots, postcards and memories for decades to come.”
Source: Sentinel Media