Sept. 28 2011 12:00 AM

Old Town’s Art Spot allows artists to use buildings as their canvas


When the Creole Gallery owner — and
unofficial mayor of Old Town — Robert Busby, was murdered in February
2007, the Old Town Community Association wanted to do something to keep
his passion for art alive.

“What we wanted to do is have
pre-approved art opportunities throughout our entire downtown — little
fun things that local artists could participate in to maintain the
texture and feeling of Old Town,” said Lauren Ciesa, a former
association board member.

This vision became Art Spot, an event
that allows artists to create original murals on the bare walls of
buildings. A lack of funding kept it from being realized until earlier
this month when the Capital Region Community Foundation provided a
grant that will allot $900 for each of three murals.

The murals will be created in an alley
near Turner Street and Grand River Avenue. The pilot locations are the
Wild Rose Café, Swanson Design and the former Greenfield Collection.

“Those locations are located near the
entrances to the alley,” explained Brittney Hoszkiw, executive director
of the Old Town Community Association. “After several years of the
program, hopefully we will fill the alley with lots of unique pieces
from different artists — basically turn the alley into an outdoor

“We’re hoping to have an event like this
annually. Hopefully, people will see the opportunities that Art Spot
provides so we can recruit future funders and install murals in more

The association has yet to receive any submissions, but Hoszkiw hopes to see diverse pieces.

“Old Town is, in my opinion, known for its whimsy, so it
could be whimsical rather than historical,” said Mary Swanson,
chairwoman of the design committee.

“If they want to wrap around door or window frames, we
look on that very favorably. Pretty much anything goes as long as it’s
G-rated. It can be cutting-edge.”

The community will help decide which pieces should be chosen Sunday, during the First Sunday Gallery Walk.

“(The Walk) is already a celebration of the arts, so we
thought it would be a great time to showcase the submissions and get
input,” Hoszkiw said.

Submissions are being accepted through Friday. For more information, visit