A (Painted) Fish Tale

Last Friday, in broad daylight, a bunch of kids from Troy blatantly painted on the side of a vacant building on Middleburgh Street.

This was a far cry from vandalism.

The kids were not hoodlums, but instead were playing an important role in an ongoing public art project in the Collar City, assisting artist Chip Fasciana, who has been commissioned to paint a mural on the former Trojan Electronic Supply Co. headquarters.

Built in 1918 but now vacant, the warehouse served businesses and industries across the northeast for nearly a century. Situated near the Hudson River boat launch and park, it’s hoped that the building could find new life as an anchor for Troy’s emerging North Central Neighborhood.

The mural project highlights both the industrial and natural heritage of Troy, featuring a giant sturgeon and the word “Perseverance.”

While Fasciana knows this is a very “small part of daily conversation” in North Central, he hopes that the mural will inspire some of the kids involved to develop an interest in the environment and the Hudson River ecosystem. He noted that investments in the nearby Ingalls Avenue Playground could further help young people connect with nature, and believes this mural dovetails with that effort.

Fasciana drew inspiration for the project from the Living Indoor Hudson River exhibit at CMOST, the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology at 250 Jordan Road. The exhibit invites visitors to “explore the unique environment of one of America’s most historically significant tidal rivers … from the river’s source in the Adirondacks all the way to its end, the Atlantic Ocean.”

The artist also pointed out that among Native Americans in the Great Lakes region, the sturgeon is considered royalty among fishes. As a spiritual totem, its characteristics include determination, perseverance, depth and knowledge.

Sturgeon were once a big deal around here, but overfishing and pollution nearly led to their extirpation. The state Department of Environmental Conservation says “Atlantic sturgeon were once referred to as ‘Albany Beef’ as they were a common source of protein throughout the Hudson Valley. They were also coveted for their eggs, which were valued as high-quality caviar.”

The mural is part of Troy’s Master Plan for Public Art, which supports efforts where planning and placemaking come together to create lively community spaces. Program partners include the Arts Center of the Capital Region (ACCR); TAP Inc. (Troy Architecture Practice); and the Troy Redevelopment Foundation. HGTV/Sherwin-Williams sponsored the paint for the project.

Fasciana is a self-described”one-time Fortune 500 corporate guy” who made a 180-degree life change to become a painter. He paints large public murals in New York and California. His works have been shown extensively here in the region as well as in New York City, London, and Southern California. His work can be seen on Instagram @ferdbot.

Photo credit: Arts Center of the Capital Region.

Colleen M. Ryan has always been a storyteller. An innovative communications professional with experience in government, nonprofit and business sectors, she recently launched CMR Communications.

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