Next Steps: Research is Key

One of the things that I wanted to explore and expand upon with the Cortland Corset Company Mural and Restoration project was to restore the original ornate wooden windows. Unfortunately, while I was painting, I discovered that the windows were in great disrepair and beyond restoration due to over a hundred years of exposure to the elements.  This part of the project is far more extensive than I had originally believed. 

I am not a wood worker, and this is outside of my wheel house of current skill sets, but I have an idea, I am willing and eager to learn, and more than capable of planning and managing a creative project. For the next year, I am sure I will be researching how to replicate and replace the windows and hopefully work with the building owner of the Corset Company Building to find grants that could help fun this massive undertaking of a project. When I declared I wanted to do it, I didn’t realize how much work would be involved until I hit the tip of the iceberg with my research when I began to paint the mural. This is going to take some time... 

My goal is to create a community-based skill share project working with both Cortland Woodworks and the Owego Street Makery in order to replicate, build and replace the windows. Construction would be a winter project, learning from experienced wood workers, project open to community members who want to learn how to replicate and replace the windows and be involved with an on-going creative project. The new windows would then be installed in the spring or early summer.  

So, this is in the back of my mind, for now, as I gear up for 2019. For now, it is research and continuing to develop the creative network time to hopefully see this project through. 



Grace at the Cortland Arts and Wine Festival 2018

One of the most fun things I experienced with promoting the Cortland Corset Company Mural and Restoration project was definitely building the costume that represents Grace in the real world for the Culture Council of Cortland County annual Cortland Arts and Wine Festival. I even found an old corset that had been manufactured in the factory. All elements were assembled together to make the most realistic version of a walking mural, right down to white body paint and hand painted tattoos. My booth was a combination of installation art, performance art and cosplay, event promotion as well as selling items I had created like buttons, stickers, posters and custom screen printed t-shirts all featuring the mural design. All funds raised were used directly toward completing the mural. Here you will find some highlights. I am over a month behind on this particular post because it wasn’t soon after that actual hustle for the mural began. All photos were captured by myself (just the selfie, really, ) Anthony Smith and Christine Shanks who have been such a huge support in this project overall.

Passion project: Completing the Corset Company Mural

I have finished the three story mural, a 42 foot woman I have lovingly named Grace. I began and completed painting with the help of several wonderful volunteers from the Cortland community. It was a labor of love, and between my work schedule and the weather, I was able to dedicate about 60 hours over the course of a month into the completion of the Cortland Corset Company mural.

It was not an easy task. This is my largest and most complicated project to date. It was an exciting challenge. The building is 150 years old, with problems just as old, textures that had be be worked around or integrated into the design. I ended up live streaming through Facebook so that I could share my process and progress as well as use it as a very necessary tool to assist in free handing the design. I was able to see what I was doing in more reasonable proportions so that I could get the lines and details to fall more accurately while accommodating for the architecture. I chose to free hand instead of using a grid because of the nature of the building insisted on lending its own narrative. It wasn't possible to have a true translation from my original two dimensional digital mock up (which was easy to create without the limitations of reality) without accounting for the architecture itself and over a century of erosion. Also projection of details to trace was not possible due to severe light pollution. Some proportions were exaggerated to make the narrative stronger in working with the architecture. It was a community project involving many hands telling a single story. The story is what I am interested in telling, not perfection. I hope there will be many more stories to be told by and in the community, and hopefully this project spurs such inspiration for others.

I have to say, I have been overjoyed by the positive response that the project has received. So many people have been inspired by it, which was ultimately the whole point of it all. As I was working, folks that could see me on the lift painting from Port Watson Street would swing in and check out it. My original Facebook live video has reached nearly 5,000 people, and even reaching beyond to my connections outside of the CNY area. Many people stopped in and took pictures of the project in progress, overlapping their own narrative to the story I have been weaving with this character. I had high schoolers, Tompkins Cortland Community College students dropping in to paint or take pictures to document, local emerging artists and community members who just wanted to get involved all come out and participate. It has been shared farther than I could have imagined, so I am grateful for that. The Cortland Standard has continuously come out to document and share the progress of the mural as well. I am hoping that through this project, more artists will be inspired in the area resulting in more visual and public arts through the future Crown City Artworks Project. I want people to find a place to participate in beautifying and bettering the communities they are living in.

If you want to see more progress photos and the live stream videos of the project in progress, please go to:

mural below
mural left
mural right

An Inspiring Canvas: An Interview with the Cortland Standard

I was pleasantly surprised by the amazing front page article about the Cortland Corset Company Mural and Restoration Project. When Nicholas Graziano approached me for an interview, I was ecstatic. The project is beginning to gain momentum and getting into the public eye each and every day. I brought him to my shared studio space where I spoke to him about my vision of developing the arts in my hometown, lifting it up as it reinvents itself. He told me that it would probably be on the third page of the Cortland Standard. I was astonished to see that it made the front page on Tuesday, June 19th 2018! I read the article and felt like my vision came through.

Later Tuesday evening, I was House Managing for Cortland Repertory Theatre for out Preview Night of Saturday Nigh Fever and was absolutely and happily bombarded by guild members and patrons about the article and the project. It felt really good to have such a positive response and for people to express their understanding of my marriage between past and present in this project.

Now I am working on drop off locations for donations including businesses at the Cortland Corset Building, so stay tuned. In the mean time, donations are being accepted at:

I am also working on some incentives for both donors and sponsors. I will be announcing those in the next few days. Also, keep a look out for updates on my promotion of the project at the Cortland Art and Wine Festival in August.

Below you will find the full article. Please enjoy!

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Cortland Corset Company Mural at the Cortland Corset Building

I am an Artist and Creative Advocate in Upstate New York. I am advocating for a platform for other artists of my native city of Cortland, New York to create visual and public arts.  I also want to encourage artists from elsewhere to come and feel inspired and leave their mark.

I have reicieved partial funding of $2500 through the 2018 CNY Arts Decentralized Grant for Individual Artists. I am seeking from the community, both local and on social media, an additional $10,000 to fulfill the needs of the project.

It is a community based project meant to be a focal point, drawing attention to and awareness of what the current incarnation of the Cortland Corset Building has to offer. It has become a creative hub for artists, musicians and entrepreneurs, a hidden gem.

I will have volunteers from Tompkins Cortland Community College and SUNY Cortland art departments to assist in completing the mural. The deadline for completion is September 29th, 2018 for an unveiling in association with a reintroduction event to the Cortland Corset Building.  For this event, I am currently organizing an art exhibition and a call to artists and plan to include the assistance of Cortland Jr./Sr. Highschool students who maybe interested in pursuing the arts. The funds raised here will help with equipment rental, craft services, paint, brushes and other needed materials, and promotion.

I have designed hopefully the first of many murals and/or other visual arts installations in the area. Recently, I was involved in advocating for the Crown City Artworks Project which was a community approved program submitted to New york State for final approval as part of Downtown Revitalization Initiative, a $10 million grant from New York State, that would give a platform for artist to create public art to continue to beautify and grow the creative economy of the City of Cortland. 

The Cortland Corset Company Mural at the Cortland Corset Building is a celebration of past and present. It is a throw back symbolically to it's history, including the Cortland Wagon Company. The design is inspired by the businesses that were once there, while also reaching for the future and embracing the buildings new identity. It is a fictional character that represents past, present and future. She represents us all. Many people can relate to the hsitory of the building. My grandmother worked here. I also grew up  down the street. I take pride in my hometown and love the history, all the while embracing change.  I want to share my experience and continue to champion the arts in the area. This is my mark on my home.

Cortland is a city that has struggled over the years with the loss of industry, however it is a prime time for it to reinvent itself. Cortland is geographically located in Central New York right off Interstate 81, it is equal distant from New York City and Buffalo. It is nessled just south of the beautiful Finger Lakes region. Even Syracuse, Ithaca, and Binghamton are a stone's throw away, all of which have thriving art scenes and/or planned art districts. I am also inspired by Rochester's Wall Therapy, a continuous mural project.

Thank you all for your contributions, monetary or sharing is greatly appreciated!

Follow and contribute to the project:



Receiving My First Grant as an Artist


On May 31st, 2018, I attended the CNY Arts Awards Ceremony in Syracuse, New York and received the CNY Arts Decentralized Grant for Individual Artists. This was my first grant that I have received as a working artist. I am excited, humbled and ready to get started! With the $2500, I can begin the mural project, though the location and design has changed, the scope remains the same and had evolved into something even greater! More to come on that in my next post.

I want to thank everyone for their support in my artistic pursuits. Thank you Christine Shanks for attending the ceremony with me. This moment means a great deal to me. It is proof that I can do it, to remain persistent and maintain tenacity to continue to create art. I hope to show that it can be done, in Cortland, New York, a city that is ready to reinvent itself.


CNY Arts Decentralized Grant for Individual Artists 2018

I am pleased and overwhelmingly excited to announce that I have been awarded the CNY Arts Decentralized Grant for Individual Artists in Cortland County for a community mural project.  Here is an overview of the project: 

I am extremely interested and involved in the development of the Crown City Artworks Project, What if Cortland had an art walk, much like the Syracuse Connective Corridor. It would celebrate local and New York State visual artists to create site specific public works for the City of Cortland community.

I propose to begin with creating public art in the form of a mural on Central Ave that would serve as a pilot for creating such a program. I was approached by the owner of Long Island Bagel to paint a mural, and have been seeking funds to complete it. I was awarded the CNY Arts Decentralization Grant for Individual Artists $2,500. and I am seeking the remainder of the funds through Cortland DRI, sponsorships and public donations. The estimated cost is $11,700.

I would be the supervising artist and would have 2 interns from SUNY Cortland Art Department, 2 interns from TC3 Art Department, and 2-4 Cortland Jr./Sr. High school the goal being to give experience in creating public works for their community.

This is a rough digital sketch of my first idea, which can evolve and change with input and critique. The idea is to say Cortland without staying Cortland. Red dragon connects to SUNY Cortland, the tail pointing with one way traffic on Central Ave to draw attention and create flow. Seven pointed crown to represent the crown city and the seven valleys. Longitude and latitude coordinates of the city of Cortland.

First sketch for the proposed mural at Central Ave and Main Street, Cortland, New York.

First sketch for the proposed mural at Central Ave and Main Street, Cortland, New York.

IlluXcon X

It is a tardy post, but I wanted to share a little of my experience at IlluXcon X. I was a displaying artist in the Showcase along side other amazingly talented artists and illustrators at different levels of experience from emerging to established. It was inspiring to be surrounded by so much imaginative realism.

I had lovely conversations with the artists in the Main Showcase. Down to earth people who were easily approachable and eager to talk about their art and process. I spoke with Julie Bell after she took a selfie for her Instagram and discussed her process and her personal goal to change up her color palette from her comfortable warm to an exploratory cool one. I also discussed John Jude Palencar's experience with working on the illustrated covers of the Inheritance Trilogy written by Christopher Paolini who was a successful teenage author in high fantasy. Christopher had even named a major geographical location after the artist.

I also attended a number of seminars including being introduced to One Fantastic Week which is an extremely valuable resource and community of artists who are making a living doing what they love and sharing their experiences and knowledge with others in the field. There were other invaluable seminars that just brushed the surface of the legal realm to human biology and visual composition.

I learned a great deal about myself while I was there. I have come so far in such a short amount of time and will continue to strive for excellence in art as well as remain hungry to learn and to be inspired. I am looking forward to attending IlluXcon again in 2018 and hopefully exploring other cons between now and then as well!

My humble display at the Showcase at IlluXcon X.

My humble display at the Showcase at IlluXcon X.

IlluXcon X program and all access pass!

IlluXcon X program and all access pass!

A glimpse into the Main Showcase at IlluXcon X.

A glimpse into the Main Showcase at IlluXcon X.

Cortland Revitalization Grant Winners

What did I do on my birthday this year? Volunteered my time as an artist to a cause I truly and deeply believe in. Giving back to my home town has paid off in a big way. Thank you to all my fellow creatives that worked on the Cortland Revitalization Grant. Shout out to the creative team: Christine Shanks Graphic Design Chair and Professor at Tompkins Cortland Community College, Chris Xaver Cinema Chair and Professor at Tompkins Cortland Community College, Anthony Smith photographer, Rose Pinnisi filmmaker, Chad Diamond of Grindstone Films videoagrapher and editor and a special thanks to the Cortland Community.