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Color the Canal to welcome cyclists with community artwork along bike path

Color the Canal to welcome cyclists with community artwork along bike path

Volunteers are invited to art-making session June 4 at Gateway Park
Color the Canal to welcome cyclists with community artwork along bike path
Local residents create artwork at C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studio on State Street in Schenectady for the bike trail.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber


SCHENECTADY -- Gillian Scott and her family use the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail regularly. Her 9-year-old daughter just joined her on a 20-mile ride to Amsterdam.

But Scott, a Schenectady resident and president of the Friends of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, is afraid some think the trail is invisible.

So she’s adding a bit of color.

Scott and co-sponsor CREATE Community Studios, led by her friend of 30 years Heather Hutchison, are planning the first ever Color the Canal, a Schenectady countywide celebration of the historic trail. The project will lace the trail with visual and sculptural art and welcome the roughly 650 cyclists who bike the trail from Buffalo to Albany during July’s Cycle the Erie Canal ride. The project also aims to encourage the Capital Region residents who cheer them along throughout the ride.

“Bicycling is a mental as well as physical activity and we want to give riders something to look at, perhaps laugh at, or make them think,” Scott said. “We’re inviting community groups as well as individuals and businesses to contribute art that recognizes the county’s rich cultural, historical and recreational offerings.”

The two organizations, with help from the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. and the ElectriCity Arts District, are planning on filling the trail with art from Kiwanis Park in Rotterdam to SUNY Schenectady County Community College on July 13.

On July 14, the organizations will plant art from the Jewish Community Center in Niskayuna, where cyclists are staying overnight, to Lions Park by the Albany County border. An open-to-the-public chalk art event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 13 at SUNY Schenectady.

Scott and fellow organizers are expecting to see at least 100 pieces of art decorating the trail when Cycle the Erie Canal cyclists ride by. Organizers are looking for sponsors for materials for community members to create signs and other pieces of art.

But Scott said they already have some of the materials taken care of. CREATE is preparing political lawn signs with primer painted over them to distribute as templates for signs.

Scott said the signs don’t need to follow a certain theme, but she hopes the work represents how community members feel about the county and how they view the city of Schenectady.

If You Go:

WHAT: Making signs and creating art for the first-ever Color the Canal. Professional artists will be on hand to help and inspire volunteer artists.

WHEN: Tuesday from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

WHERE: Gateway Park across from SUNY Schenectady County Community College.

Color the Canal is partially funded by a grant from the Schenectady County Initiative Program. CREATE can be reached at 518-348-9290 to donate materials or volunteer to create artwork. Gillian Scott, president of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail can be reached at 518-372-8478 or [email protected].

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