About two weeks ago I found out about an arts event that was taking place last weekend in Beacon NY. Beacon features the art museum Dia: Beacon which features art from the 60's through the present and opened in 2003. Dia: Beacon and is housed in an old Nabisco factory which was then used by International Paper before being donated to the museum.
But we didn't even make it to Dia: Beacon since we headed there to check out the live painting for Electric Windows which is a street art installation that will hang in the windows of an abandoned and derelict factory for the next year. Last weekend 20 street artists headed to Beacon to paint their own 8' x 12' canvas live on the street while people milled about and djs, bands and spoken word sessions went down on the other sidewalk. Main St. is a thriving arts scene with at least 8 to 10 art galleries, plenty of interesting independent and ethnic restaurant choices side by side with hair salons, convenience stores and cutesy tea rooms and candle stores that look like they would fit right in on Cape Cod.
From talking to the locals the town (with a 2000 census population of just under 14,000) had all the same issues facing them that we see here in Worcester. Of course they have the advantage of being one hour by train from from New York City and sit at the base of a mountain on the shore of The Hudson River and we here in Worcester sit in The Heart of The Commonwealth.
Walking around the downtown area from gallery to doggie treat shop to coffee shop Crystal and I got nothing but a good vibe from the town. And it is easy to see that they are in the process of leveraging their past, their urban blight, the hand that they were dealt over the years and using the bones of unique features of their old buildings to create something that is viable for today. After all this is an event that made Crystal and I drive 3 hours each way to pump our small disposable income into their town's economy just because they were getting street artists to come and install pieces of work on an abandoned building.