Before many people had enjoyed their Sunday breakfast, Atena Crain was getting her hands dirty.
“I’m actually a personal stylist. So when it comes to art I just love it,” Crain said. “I love beautiful things, I love glitter.”
Crain was one of more than a dozen volunteers helping to paint the concrete barriers that line two blocks of Henry Street in downtown Saratoga Springs.
“It seems really creative and cool and it’s going to make the streets more beautiful,” said Crain, who drove up from her home in Schenectady County.
“We love to have fun and this is a very fun process,” said Erin Maciel, one of the people who came up with the idea for the project. “You get to use a spray gun, you get to mix paint and all of the vibrant colors.”
Maciel is a landscape architect and a member of the Complete Streets Committee in the Spa City.
“I am so excited to see how this is happening here in Saratoga,” Maciel said. “Urban art is something that we can just add in another layer. Public art brings vibrancy to our cities and it changes how we view, maybe, a mundane roadbed.”
Most of the materials were donated by Jonathan Gross’s company, Ruby Lake Glass.
“This is a really cool project,” Gross said. “What we are using to spray on these blocks is color-coded glass that is mixed in a waterproof binder. Everything is completely green, it is natural and it’s organic so it is biodegradable.”
Organizers say this about more than making the street more beautiful and welcoming.
Catherine Hover, who owns the Saratoga Paint and Sip Studio, says the barricades were a lifeline to business owners here because they’ve allowed them to expand into the street and offer outdoor seating throughout the pandemic.
“When COVID hit, I was very scared,” said Hover, who’s also the owner of Broadway’s Palette, a cafe and coworking space that’s geared toward women. “If it were not for the outdoor environment we were able to create during COVID, I certainly would not still be standing here.”
While the barriers were initially meant to be temporary, Hover says she and the restaurant owners on the block hope they’ll be kept forever.
“My take is that we are investing in the longevity of them being here,” Hover said of Sunday’s painting project. “We love them for the street, we love them for business, so why not make them a silver lining of COVID and keep them here year-round?”
To volunteers like Crain, this is a chance to help those businesses and beautify the community they love.
“I am just loving watching this glitter get into this glue,” said Cain as she helped mix the paint. “That is my favorite part so I am having lots of fun.”