Jump to the main section.





The parking garage as canvas

Quackenbush Garage mural site

If you look closely, you can make out the mural pattern on the garage.

Over the next few weeks a flock of birds will emerge in downtown Albany. A flock of really big birds.

The side of the Quackenbush Parking Garage that faces the Clinton Ave off ramp from I-787 will serve as the canvas for a new mural depicting Eastern Bluebirds flying into downtown. The Albany Parking Authority commissioned local artist Michael Conlin to create the work.

"There's something great about seeing a fantastic piece of art, for free, on the side of a building as you're coming to a city," APA exec director Matthew Peter said Monday after the public announcement of the project. "It sort of feels like you're supposed to be here."

Peter said the parking authority has been looking at ways of making its parking garages more welcoming. That includes lighting and signage -- but also art. This mural is a pilot and could be the first of a series. The authority has plenty of canvas space. It has three garages around downtown Albany -- Quackenbush, Riverfront behind Kiernan Plaza, and Hudson-Green near the TU Center.

The total cost of the mural -- from start to finish -- will be about $12,000, according to Peter. That money is coming out of a parking authority budget for garage upgrades.

City entryways

Mayor Kathy Sheehan said the Quackenbush garage's location also presents the opportunity to send a message to people entering the city. And right now the rather plain-looking wall is like a blank message.

"It's not just a garage, it's an urban canvas," Sheehan said during a press conference. "And taking advantage of those urban canvases anywhere we can is really going to transform that entryway and, I hope, the way that people feel as they enter the city of Albany."

The art

We had a chance to talk with Michael Conlin, the artist, for a few minutes today about the project. He said he had been approached Tony Iadicicco of the Albany Center Gallery about a year and a half ago about potentially painting a mural for the city. And through the process of discussions and feedback, the idea of people flocking to downtown for entertainment and activities came up, and from there the idea for the birds emerged. (The Eastern Bluebird is the state bird of New York.)

Michael Conlin

You've already seen some of Conlin's work. His mural work includes the side of Wolff's Biergarten on Broadway in Albany. He also does custom sign painting for businesses -- a recent client was Hamlet and Ghost in Saratoga Springs. And (if you're viewing this during May 2016) look at the top of this page -- Conlin was the illustrator for the current AOA seasonal banner.

Conlin said the garage presented some challenges. He had design with the negative space created by gaps between levels. And there's also the issue of working five stories in the air. (He would have been working on the mural today, but the gusting winds didn't make it safe.)

"It's the biggest I've ever done," he said today of the garage mural (it's approximately 25 feet by 85 feet), "but it's moving right along, which is a nice surprise."

Between the size of the mural and its location, the work has the potential to become an Albany landmark. During Monday's press conference, Conlin said he was humbled by the opportunity.

"There are some beautiful landmark murals in Albany," he said to us afterward, "and if I become part of that alumni, it's an honor."


There a few photos of the garage and Conlin's pattern for the mural above in large format -- click or scroll all the way up.


Awesome! Why not try to make something ugly a little more beautiful?!

I hope the city and/or parking authority maintains this mural over the years. Perhaps the "landmark" designation will help with that. Every time I head toward the entry ramp to the Dunn Memorial Bridge in Rennselaer (off of Broadway), the faded, peeling paintings on the columns -- you know, like the one that says, "Big things are happening in your city right now!" -- make me a little bit sad.

Now how about a green roof? :-)

Excellent. Now get cracking on that refrigerator building.

@N -- The faded, peeling painting you referenced is actually only a few years old, but was damaged by the flooding from Hurricane Irene in 2011. So it didn't get to look nice for long. The others are more than 20 years old.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.


Recently on All Over Albany

International Tuesday at The Low Beat

How many of you out there went to Valentine's in Albany when it was still around? Raise your hand. (**cups hands over brow bone, squints,... (more)

The state is looking for someone to design murals for the ESP food court

The state Office of General Services is looking for a New York State artist to paint murals on four walls of the recently renovated food... (more)

Morning Blend

Race for governor + The Cuomo campaign's response to Cynthia Nixon entering the race for the Democratic nomination: "Governor Cuomo has delivered more real progressive... (more)

Who owns this street, grinder pumps, just-arrived email, a school expansion, and other exciting tales of the Albany Planning Board

Exciting Tales of the Albany Planning Board is a program recorded before a live studio audience once a month in which the fates of multi-million... (more)

Cynthia Nixon is running for governor

It's official: Cynthia Nixon is running for governor. She's lining up a challenge to Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary. That's her announcement video embedded... (more)

Recent Comments

Washington Avenue definitely needs more than one lane in each direction, but that doesn't mean it can't be redesigned. They can reduce the size of the lanes, add a median, and add a protected bike lane where the shoulder of the road now lies. I agree, however, that the entire Harriman loop would have to be redesigned and that includes those over-passes, so this would be an extremely expensive undertaking if they want to do it right. But there could be significant development on the land that is now wasted by asphalt that could offset that cost and bulk up the tax base for the city.

Cynthia Nixon is running for governor

...has 3 comments, most recently from Danielle Sanzone

Who owns this street, grinder pumps, just-arrived email, a school expansion, and other exciting tales of the Albany Planning Board

...has 3 comments, most recently from Mike

787 is sticking around for a long time, but if you want to change it the time to start is now

...has 4 comments, most recently from Anonymous

Studying the future direction of Washington Ave

...has 14 comments, most recently from Mk

A good home inspector?

...has 17 comments, most recently from Sally