GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Muralfest at the Glens Falls Shirt Factory was in its final days on Thursday. On some murals, the paint had dried, and at others, there were still steps to go. Glens Falls painter Rachel Henrich was creating a collage of intersecting lines, straight ends and triangular intersections, in all the colors of the rainbow.
“Peeling the tape is probably the most satisfying part,” Henrich said, pulling at a blue strip of paint used to keep the edges straight on her square of mural space, one of six designated across three shipping containers around Rock Hill Bakehouse & Cafe on Curran Lane. “I really love what the Shirt Factory is doing, and it’s really nice to be doing art here.”
Although an area native, Henrich has traveled the world over the last 20 years. Her mural at the Shirt Factory is her first work of outdoor art in the U.S., but she’s done similar work in Costa Rica and Brazil. The painter is a disciple of cultural magic principles from Brazil, which talk about dimensions of existence as constructed in squares, triangles, and other basic shapes. Her mural is meant to reflect that.
Next to her on the same crate, fellow Glens Falls local Anthony Richichi would be returning later Thursday to work on his own mural. On the next shipping crate over, Albany-based artists Lexi Hannah and Jade Warrick had finished their own creations. In front of the Rock Hill parking lot, works by Jenny Hutchinson and Rodney Allen Bentley awaited some finishing touches before the oncoming Aug. 10 deadline.
Close by those, artist Hannah Williams was hard at work on a mural of her own. This one isn’t on a shipping container, but instead covers the rear side of 182 Maple St. It features cacti, agave, and a portrait against a southwestern sky. The work is inspired by Williams’ time spending 6 months in the Sonoran desert – and came together thanks to the same degree of freedom she and the rest of the people behind Muralfest – and the Shirt Factory’s greater ambitions – wanted to afford artists.
“The whole idea behind Muralgarten (the larger plan for the area around the building) is that the artist has more freedom to express what they want to without much limitation,” Williams said. “I’m very excited for this piece because in the 10 years I’ve been painting murals, I haven’t often been able to include exactly what I want to this degree.”
Two other artists are set to paint 186 and 188 Maple St. as they see fit.
Beyond the fest
Muralfest is its own event, and part of something bigger. Williams, along with Shirt Factory owner Eric Unkauf and a board of other invested arts community members, is hoping that the project will help them gain further funding for Muralgarten – a years-long plan to create an outdoor gallery and event space featuring murals by 30+ artists on the plot of land.
Public art became a talking point for Glens Falls in 2022, with the creation of two large murals downtown near Centennial Circle. Since then, conversation with the city has gone from questions to unanimous support.
“The city has been wonderful as far as approving the mural projects. Rightfully so, there are many questions and concerns when a new thing is being introduced to the city,” Williams said.
The group is still trying to manifest whatever they can while a newer organization. Muralthon was the first event produced by the Muralgarten organization, with financial help coming from Glens Falls is the Future – a new nonprofit operated by project board member Matthew Martindale.
Muralgarten is imagined as a 10-year project. The board hopes to get funding from future phases through state or county grants, using smaller projects like Muralfest to power it along. Other board members include Kendra Farstad and Tom Myott.