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Students’ mural to provide vibrant welcome to Glens Falls region

GLENS FALLS — It’s the culmination of nearly three years of planning, shaping and day-long painting parties. It’s a blast of vibrant greens and yellows, of muted grays and splashes of lime, orange and Prussian blue.

And in its 60-foot expanse, it is a story of a group of high school students and a local businessman working together to create something beautiful for the community.

“It’s really colorful,” said Scott Schwartz, president and owner of Hill Electric Supply in Glens Falls, who has been working with Glens Falls High School students in the creation of the mural. “The only guideline we had, it had to represent Glens Falls.”

About three years ago, Schwartz approached the high school with the idea of art students creating a mural on the side of his Broad Street business. And while the initial idea was to paint it directly on the building, the students were not allowed to work on scaffolding.

“Mike Baird at Mike Baird Signs suggested corrugated panels,” Schwartz said.

And so began a bold endeavor, with Hill Electric paying for all the 4-by-8 panels, the paints, the brushes, with the art club students coming up with the concept and bringing their ideas to fruition.

“First, we taped the design with masking tape on the sheets,” said Susan Botch, Glens Falls High School art teacher who, along with art teacher Karen Mars, led the art club project. “At first we had some measuring issues, but we got that figured out.”

The 60-foot mural, made up of 16 panels, is nearly three times as large as the first mural the Glens Falls High School art club created for the Prospect Center in Queensbury.

It’s a fun adventure, exploring the mural and discovering its many community and regional landmarks, including West Mountain ski trails, the four-sided clock in downtown Glens Falls, the Charles R. Wood Theater, The Hyde Collection art museum, the downtown monument near Glens Falls National Bank, the Adirondack Balloon Festival, the Minne-Ha-Ha steamboat on Lake George, Cool Insuring Arena and Haviland’s Cove in Glens Falls, to name a few.

“It is at the entryway into Glens Falls and it represents the city and other things in the region,” Botch said.

In its initial stages, Schwartz met with the students to talk about the mural, giving them full creative license.

According to Botch, there were about six students involved in the early planning and as the years evolved, many students were involved in its creation.

“There were over 20 students involved,” she said, adding that as it got closer to completion, students stepped up. “There were paint days and painting parties. Some students would come first thing in the morning till late at night.”

Hill Electric employees are installing the panels into the concrete this week and, as of Wednesday, about 20 feet of the mural had been installed. The weather has been a setback, and not so much because of the cold, but the wind.

“The panels are very light,” said Jeff Pearl, one of the mural installers. “The other day it took four of us to hold the panel in place.”

And once the installation is complete this week, Botch said students will touch up the mural and adjust any places that did not match up perfectly.

“Karen and I are very excited to see it up,” she said. “We were telling all the kids to drive by and see it. We are so excited for the students to see it.”

Schwartz said it is near the entrance to Glens Falls, off Northway Exit 18, and it will be a welcome sight to people coming to the city.