Peekskill Arts Alliance Bringing “Splash of Color” to City

The mural Jazz by Leonardo Moleiro is coming soon to Bean Runner Cafe

As part of New York State’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant that’s been sweeping through downtown Peekskill since it was first awarded in 2019, the Peekskill Arts Alliance (PAA) is unveiling its newest installation: Making Connections.  

Cosponsored by the PAA and Peekskill Business Improvement District (BID), Making Connections is the second piece of the three-part public arts initiative funded through $500,000 in DRI funds. The first, Five Elements Arches, was introduced on South Street in April 2023, and the third, Illuminate Peekskill, will feature five sculptures — the first, Wind Farm, is expected to be completed in the community garden by the end of June. 

Making Connections intends to generate “art corridors” in its 13 proposed locations, in conjunction with the city’s overall mission to create more wayfinding and a clear avenue from the riverfront to downtown for both visitors and citizens.  

Larry D’Amico, Vice President of PAA, shared that “the idea was to get an artistic path up from the riverfront into town and have something of interest for people to look at while they’re walking up the hill. The other piece of this was to make sure that the pieces and locations were integrated into the historic district, making sure the placements at each site kind of enhanced each other but were not in conflict.”   

Rendering depicts Did You Hear mural as it will appear when placed on retaining wall at Central Avenue and Washington Street

The art subjects and locations were chosen specifically with Peekskill’s buildings in mind. The Harriet Tubman mural is on the exterior wall of the Fern Tree store, owned by LaFern Joseph, who operates Peekskill’s Underground Railroad tours. The abolitionist exhibition will be outside the Lincoln Depot Museum. On the side of the BeanRunner Cafe, a well-known jazz venue in town, will be a jazz-style mural. PAA President Robin Kline explained, “It’s a relationship between the art and the venue.” 

Part of the project includes a wall of 13 banners hung from aluminum framing as an “art walk” in the newly redesigned Pugsley Park, which is expected to reopen in the coming weeks. The banners, aptly titled A Day in the Park, will showcase life in Peekskill in a connected, purposeful way. “I’m really excited about that piece. It’s covering a lot of local artists from the PAA,” said D’Amico. “That’s one thing that I really wanted to make sure we did from the get-go. Robin and I were really careful to be as inclusive as possible in all this.”  

A favorite piece of both Kline’s and D’Amico’s is the Tupac Shakur Did You Hear mural of aluminum panels, a confluence of bright flowers and an inspiring quote to be placed on the retaining wall at Central Ave and Washington St. D’Amico noted that he worked “like crazy” on the artwork: “The piece is a combination of what the Peekskill High School students have done with Lance Johnson and what I did with what they did.”   

Rendering of banners by Peekskill Arts Alliance members that will be placed in the performing arts section of revitalized Pugsley Park

Connecting the waterfront area to the downtown area is important for the engagement of both Peekskill citizens and visitors, and the former is imperative to Kline. “In doing this, I hope the residents of Peekskill will have a really enhanced sense of pride and ownership in their home, in this town, in its history.”  

“A splash of color in everyday life,” D’Amico cheerfully defined as the project’s mission. 

Peekskill resident Stephanie Conte is a regular contributor to River Journal. Photos courtesy of Peekskill Arts Alliance

Making Connections Upcoming Installations: Spring-Summer 2024 

Location  Mural Title  Artist  Status 
Fern Tree  Harriet Tubman Mural  N. Carlos Johnson  Installed 
Peekskill Coffee House  Peekskill Coffee House Murals  Steve Erenberg  Installed 
Pugsley Park  A Day in the Park  PAA member artists  Coming soon 
Retaining wall at Central Ave and Washington St  Did You Hear  Larry D’Amico, Lance Johnson, PCH students  Coming soon 
The Lincoln Depot Museum  The Abolitionists  Lance Johnson  Coming soon 
Bean Runner Cafe  Jazz  Leonardo Moleiro  Coming soon 
Bruised Apple Book Store  By the River  Misha Tyutyunik  Coming soon 
Peekskill Police Station  Honoring the Public Trust  Robert Barthelmes  Coming soon 


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About the Author: Stephanie Conte