Photos by Margaret Fox
A 520-foot community-painted mural brought local residents together during a trying time, thanks largely to the efforts of two area women.
Sleepy Hollow’s Kersten Harries knew that a lengthy concrete wall, left after a GM factory closed shop decades ago, could be transformed into something beautiful. As early as 2019, she had been reaching out to owners of the site, Edge-on-Hudson, about turning the space into a temporary art installation. It wasn’t until the summer of 2020 when her dream became a reality, working with Sleepy Hollow community liaison Diane Loja, Edge-on-Hudson, and the Village Board of Trustees to form The Wishing Wall, a mural adjacent to the Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse, painted by both community members and area artists.
So how did Harries and Loja, project managers for The Wishing Wall, find enough artists to cover a concrete canvas roughly one-tenth of a mile long? “A Call for Artists was used to select a core team of designers [Erin Carney, Tim Grajek, Katie Reidy], who utilized the community’s ideas to create a cohesive design concept that was laid out along the entire wall, which also included locating spots where selected volunteer artists and groups could directly paint their submitted ideas,” explains Harries. “An additional eight artists and community art educators were part of the core team responsible for executing the painting of the mural, with the help of many volunteers who signed up.”
Considering that the wall is slated to come down in 2022, the original Riverwalk Community Mural planning committee has both “expanded and shifted focus to creating other community art opportunities elsewhere locally, with the hope to utilize the energy and enthusiasm generated by The Wishing Wall and help inspire new public art and creative placemaking projects in Sleepy Hollow’s downtown,” notes Harries. Additionally, a Wishing Wall photo contest is underway, with submissions due September 6, as well as an attendant online gallery of submissions and an upcoming exhibition in Sleepy Hollow storefronts.
“For the 260-plus community members directly involved in the project and the many more who watched it be created or have visited since, The Wishing Wall provided a much-needed, positive experience of hope during a particularly challenging year,” reflects Harries. “The mural allowed an opportunity to reconnect with others and witness what we’re able to accomplish when we work together.”