“Roosendaal” paints the city red – Hudson Valley One | Candle Made Easy

Roses in the Rosendale Project. (Photos by Martha Cooper)

Roses are bursting on colorful murals everywhere. Rosendale lives up to its Dutch name Roosendaal – Rose Valley.

The Roses for Rosendale project was born in the mind of Lady Pink, aka Sandra Fabara, aka The Queen of Wall Art. A resident of Gardiner for nine years, Lady Pink was born in Ecuador 58 years ago and grew up in New York City . She attended High School of Art and Design and rose to fame painting graffiti on subways and exhibiting in art galleries while still in high school. Today her paintings are in several prestigious museums, including the Whitney, the Met, the Brooklyn Museum and the Boston Museum of Fine Art.

Invited to teach a mural workshop at the Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, Lady Pink wanted to show how murals can transform public spaces. So she printed flyers and knocked on doors, offering free murals to Rosendale companies in exchange for permission to paint the bare walls of their buildings. As she put it, “We are doing a good deed to beautify a city and bring economic prosperity. It’s our artist superpower!”

Lady Pink typically charges $13,000 to $15,000 to paint a full-size mural, but she and her husband, graffiti artist Roger Smith, decided to fund the project themselves. They received a $1,000 donation from photographer Henry Chalfant, who has been documenting New York City’s graffiti and hip-hop scene for decades. Lady Pink donated her honoraria from the Women’s Studio Workshop and a restaurant contributed $500.

After some building owners agreed, Lady Pink called on her 42,000 followers on Instagram to volunteer. Nationally known muralists, a retired art teacher, high school students and local artists responded. Professional muralists Jules Muck and Alice Mizrachi traveled from Venice, California and New York City. But if her sketches were good enough, amateurs were welcome too, including high school girls Lady Pink knew from a project in Highland. Eventually a team of about 35 volunteers was assembled.

Photographer Martha Cooper, who has been recording graffiti and street art for 40 years, drove from New York City to photograph the artists at work.

All murals should be completed in the last week of June. Shopkeepers approved the designs for their buildings, and soon, despite the sweltering heat, spray cans and brushes were in action from one end of Rosendale to the other. Fifteen murals came to life.

Muck, whose signature is Muckrock, painted three 20-foot-tall red flowers on the roof of Fann’s Plaza, above Dollar General on Rte. 32. Six painters worked at the bottle depot. Orange roses now adorn The Carpet Store. White flowers edged in black are located on the side wall of Santa Fe. There are also yellow, pink and blue roses. Finding them all is a fun Rosendale treasure hunt.

Don’t forget to look for the Ukrainian mural that a family painted on their shop and Lady Pink’s two-story Mother Earth at the back of the Garden restaurant.

Despite the team spirit and creativity of Roses for Rosendale, several residents saw thorns between the petals. As Lady Pink put it, “When you’re successful, the haters come out of the woodwork.” Some wanted a painting that showed the history of the town. And Lady Pink told us that three artists were yelled at and threatened until the builder defended them.

The burger bar’s co-owner, Annie Demosthenes, says she loves the Lady Pink mural on her building. “It enhances the space and is a great place for people to take photos and share their Rosendale experiences on social media.”

“The project was supposed to be Rosen and things became different. Skulls and snakes and other things,” said Yuval Sterer, owner of Big Cheese Hudson Valley One. “Some are beautiful and some are disgusting.” Some of the murals depict more than just roses. Two young people — Kira, a 17-year-old high school student, and Thistle, 18 — added skulls to the mural they and others painted at the bottle depot. Thistle’s is reminiscent of Georgia O’Keeffe’s animal skull paintings. Kira’s has a Day of the Dead Mexican vibe.

Lady Pink was delighted to nurture Kira and Thistle’s youthful imaginations. She says she’s willing to paint over anything a landlord is unhappy with, but no request has been made yet.

Rosendale supervisor Jeanne Walsh has also heard mixed reactions to “Roses for Rosendale.” In an email, she shared: “Some people love it and some people don’t. For those unhappy about this, all I can remind them is that it’s just paint.”

Lady Pink poses with her mural behind the Garden Restaurant.

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