Detroit’s Heidelberg Project—an artistic creation by Tyree Guyton that spans two-blocks of downtown Detroit—is just one example of artistic city projects being used to “heal” neighborhoods that are down on their luck. The healing power of art also has been applied to the entire façade of Tannersville, a small town in the Catskill Mountain region of Upstate New York. Like many of America’s Main Streets, this small town was doomed to perish from economic decline; Tannersville’s fate, however, was turned when the entire town itself became a work of art.
The “Tannersville Paint Program” is the vision of local artist Elena Patterson. The program was implemented by the Hunter Mountain Foundation back in 2003 and has thrived on the support of corporate sponsors and local residents. Elena’s mission was to spruce up the town with vibrant colors and dramatic paint schemes. The painted town—in which color is splashed across signs, buildings, trashcans, and rocks—drew the attention The New York Times, Ladies Home Journal, NBC’s Today Show, and numerous local Albany networks. The Paint Program appears to have had a great impact; as Elena remarked, the village has been freshened up, the streets are livelier, the restaurants fuller, and people are driving up to take a look at “Tannersville, The Painted Village.”
Can art help to revive local economies? It seems so. It is true that Tannersville still suffers from economic hardships; Greene County was hit hard by Hurricane Irene last year, and the mountaintop village—whose economy is predominantly based on the ski industry—has experienced several meager seasons over the last few years. However, Tannersville prompts us to consider the impact art can have on the economy. Perhaps what this town needs is just a new coat of paint? We can hope that this story of the healing power of art will inspire even more innovative projects around the globe.
For more information, see: