Schenectady County

Niskayuna artist makes patriotic statement on barn

Art collector Bob Minahan has turned the blank side of his barn into a statement of patriotism.

Art collector Bob Minahan has turned the blank side of his barn into a statement of patriotism.

Set behind his art gallery at 929 Pearse Road, Minahan and company used five gallons of paint to create an imposing, 30-by-50 foot American flag that covers a large portion of the barn’s broadside.

“I’m claiming [it] to be the largest painted flag in New York,” said Minahan with a laugh. “I’m sure there’s a bigger one someplace else.”

When he undertook the project in the summer of 2010, Minahan envisioned painting a myriad of American flags, commemorating different periods in American history.

“I was going to make it ‘the barn of 100 flags.’ … We just didn’t have the people,” said Minahan. “We’d have cookouts, and we’d invite people over, you know. Everybody was enthusiastic; it just took a long time to get done.

“A few people would come by, and I’d go, ‘Hey you want a beer?’ And that’s as far as we’d get.”

Minahan said the most difficult part of the project was properly scaling Old Glory’s strict dimensions and finding the right hue of red to go with the color of his barn.

“I had to keep taking [the paint] back and switching it. … I just took a typical American flag and took it to [the store],” he said. “They matched it by computer, but once you put it on the wood, it looks different. But we probably have it close to where it should be.”

About a half-dozen local children helped. “I cut out a star template and let the kids go up and hold the template on the star. I saved the stars for them,” he said.

Minahan began the ambitious project with the intent of reminding his fellow Americans what’s important.

“I think we’re just getting away from patriotism,” he said. “Everybody is so busy with the economy and everything else — a lot of people are getting laid off — we’re getting away from church. There are too many pressures on people just to make it, you know.”

Minahan collects American flags and believes the banner to be of utmost importance.

“I just think it’s a symbol that people need to pay attention to. People don’t realize what it’s all about: patriotism, doing what’s right, you know. So many people are taking advantage of the system. I don’t know, it’s just frustrating as hell to me,” he said.

“The history of our country, the way our country was set up — the forefathers, the Declaration of Independence — our whole history, we have probably the best system in the world for capitalism and freedom of speech and everything else, you know. To me, the flag represents all of that: freedom.”

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