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Pearl River Art Teacher ‘Transforms’ Rail Trail With Paint & Imagination

Published Monday, June 10, 2019
by Bryan Thomas/NYSUT News
Pearl River Art Teacher ‘Transforms’ Rail Trail With Paint & Imagination

(PEARL RIVER, NEW YORK) - Instead of writing about what he did last Summer, Pearl River Teachers Association (PRTA) Member John DeMarco painted it.  In a crush of color, this Art Teacher spent part of Summer 2018 on a bicycle and walking path in Albany County transforming a quiet underpass with paint and imagination.

DeMarco was chosen in a competitive quest for artists to brighten up a section of the nine-mile Helderberg-Hudson Public Rail Trail.

Under his brush, ash-colored bridge supports became stylized with oversized wild flowers in bold blues and greens that glow.

His nature motif colored with pigments culled from brazen earth and sky.

Hollyhock, Queen Anne’s lace, bee balm and long grasses command the space.

The artwork lifts the gloom from this dark spot on the trail, which heads into a low tunnel.

His project was named “Full Spectrum.”

“I was ‘mostly focused on’ the color – ‘it was so dark under there.’  I was ‘focused on the spectrum,’” said DeMarco, who hauled paints and buckets of water daily from the Slingerlands Fire Department - about a half-mile to the site.

The cement piers are now painted with a bright base of red, orange, yellow, blue, indigo and violet - their transformation starting with splattered paint.

“We used water gun shooters,” he said, laughing. “It’s ‘not like working in your studio.’”

“We” included: his wife, Nyack Teachers Association Special Education Teacher Tricia Crafts; their son, Caden; Pearl River Teachers Association Member and Art Teacher Andrea della Cava; along with volunteers from the Hudson Mohawk Land Conservancy, students, and random walkers on the trail who helped paint the base colors.

The organizers of the project wanted community involvement.

DeMarco, who is a “very big fan” of abstract expressionists Marc Rothko and Gerhard Richter, said he used a combination of exterior paint and acrylic paint for the project.

“I was ‘super excited I was chosen,’” he said. ‘I’m ‘really happy with how it turned out.’  ‘I’ve got such a good response from people while working.’”

He put in 12-hour days to finish all eight piers and his son worked every day with him.

“When the sun was up, we were there,” he said.

DeMarco has had his work exhibited at the New York Hall of Science in New York City this past year.  He has also shown his paintings at the Garner Arts Center, the Green Point Gallery in Brooklyn, the Castle Fitz-John Galley in New York City, The Hopper House in Nyack and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

He is no stranger to large work or public art, either.

He painted two other murals in Lyndonville in Orleans County in Western New York - one as a community anti-industrial wind turbine statement and one painted with a group of people on the subject of driftwood and fishes.

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Accolades to PRTA Member John DeMarco! - One very wonderful initiative full of 'art' talent. Posted by Dan Boody on June 10, 2019 at 9:54 pm

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