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Gateway Plaza installation in Schenectady taking shape

Gateway Plaza installation in Schenectady taking shape

Construction likely to begin this week
Gateway Plaza installation in Schenectady taking shape
Mary Moore Wallinger, founding principal of LAandArt Studio poses for a photo in Schenectady's Gateway Plaza.
Photographer: Marc Schultz/Gazette Photographer

SCHENECTADY — A rainbow will begin to emerge this spring at Gateway Plaza with the installation of public art commemorating the LGBTQ movement. 

“Construction will begin in theory today or tomorrow,” said Mary Moore Wallinger, chair of the city’s Planning Commission and principle of LAndArt Studio, who has signed on to work with Schenectady Pride on the project.

The City Council formally approved a permit for the installation on Monday.

The temporary exhibit will feature colored frames with panels highlighting milestones reached since the Stonewall riots in 1969, the event considered to be foundation of the modern gay rights movement.

“The frames are also abstract representations of the doorways opened during actions and as different legislation was passed,” Wallinger said. 

Chad Putnam of Schenectady Pride said volunteers will pitch in to paint the panels, which will be revealed as part of the Schenectady Pride Festival on June 2.

“It’s really been a community effort. To see it all come together is going to be really outstanding,” Putnam said.

The installation comes as part of broader long-term renovations at the park, which was once overgrown and neglected. 

Wallinger will lead a guided tour of the renovated Gateway Plaza on Thursday beginning at 6 p.m.

She said reaction has largely been positive to the space, which was designed in part to better connect downtown Schenectady with SUNY Schenectady.

“I’m glad to see people are recognizing lots of potential for using that space and really breathing life into downtown,” Wallinger said.

The installation project will remain at Gateway Plaza at least two years, said Wallinger, who hopes the exhibit will serve as a catalyst for more public art at the city-owned park on State Street. 

Schenectady Foundation provided $22,000 through the "Thriving Neighborhoods" challenge, and Schenectady Pride aims to raise another $3,000 through a crowdfunding issue. 

The new installation comes as some residents are pining for the return of another piece of public art, a Statue of Liberty replica statue erected in 1950, but removed in 2017 as part of park improvements.

Since then, residents have jockeyed over where “Lady Liberty” should be relocated once retrieved from storage. 

“Ultimately, the decision is not mine,” Wallinger said. “It’s up to the mayor to decide where it will go.

“It needs some work. It needs money and it needs some restoration.”

Mayor Gary McCarthy didn’t return a request for comment.

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