Inside Rensselaer
Latest Public Art Project on Historic Proctor’s Theater Unveiled

Amid the daily bustle of life in downtown Troy, a partnership between Rensselaer, a local business owner, and area artists has given the city’s historic Proctor’s Theater an artistic facelift.

The project is a testament to Rensselaer’s continuing effort to support public art projects for Proctor’s Theater. The seven 4x6 foot panels are hung on the windows of the theater. Each piece depicts scenes that convey the artists’ interpretation of the Collar City’s history, from music and art to architecture and the human experience.

“Rensselaer is pleased to once again partner with area artists and Debra Lockrow, a local artist and owner of ArtCentric Gift Gallery, to showcase spectacular paintings on the façade of Proctor’s,” said Erin Crotty, director of community relations. “The murals are a great addition to Fourth Street and I encourage the entire community to experience their appeal.”

Proctor’s Theater began as a “high-class vaudeville” theater and eventually started showing movies. In its heyday, Proctor’s Theater showcased such stars as Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and Jimmy Durante. It closed in 1977.

“As an artist, there is a message in art, so the goal is to make an impact,” said Marcus Kwame Anderson, an artist and art teacher from Albany, who describes his work as a “representation of the African Diaspora.” For his piece, Anderson focused on the Liberty Street Church, which is no longer standing, and its connection to the Underground Railroad. “Public art breaks barriers, and adds beauty to the world,” he said.” I believe that the arts can be a powerful vehicle for change, and it’s an artist’s responsibility to use his or her talent to say something.”

To support the project, a team of volunteers spent hours preparing Proctor’s for the public art installation. Rensselaer also purchased paint for some of the artists at Pfeil Hardware in downtown Troy.

“Public art is an important part of a lively and dynamic downtown,” said Elizabeth Young, executive director of the Troy Downtown Collaborative. “The Proctor’s Mural Project brings life to an important block of the city, and showcases the extraordinary talent of our local artists.”

Troy native Kate Glasheen noted that the inspiration for her piece, “The Lady or the Tiger,” is based on the iconic woman on the pillar in Monument Square, an old story about a woman who has to either watch the man that she has cared for marry another woman or get mauled by a tiger. In Glasheen’s piece, the woman is wrapped in shrouds of muted and bright green hues. “Art is social commentary, and my piece represents the challenges that the Troy community will have to go through to reach its full potential.”

The project is a demonstration of the collaborative efforts to beautify the City of Troy,” said Lauren Groff, president of the Troy Business Improvement District. “Such projects help to raise the tide of investment in the city that is undergoing a revitalization.”

Additional artists include Jason Schultz, Vinne Tocco, Tony Iadicicco, Tony Thompson, and David Austin.

This is the second year that Rensselaer has supported this project. Last fall, Crotty was contacted by Lockrow, who suggested the idea of developing a public art project on plywood that would cover Proctor’s boarded windows. Lockrow worked with some artists to present several sketches to Rensselaer. Seven pieces depicting scenes that conveyed the artists’ interpretations of music and art from a musical standpoint were created.

To view a story about last year’s panels, visit:

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Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 4, Number 18, November 19, 2010
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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