“When I have an idea, I try my hardest to put it into action,” states Shane Izykowski, who, after staring at a gaping space on his way to work each morning for nearly two years, joined with the Sherman Theater’s Living Room to bring the arts to life in downtown Stroudsburg. Coupling artists with local businesses, phase one of Project Street Art features an incredible mash up of artistic talent who chose to depict several of Main Street’s fine establishments in a new light.
If you haven’t already seen the murals, you should. Shane believes they “surpass [his] original vision,” open doors to further the arts in a town where the arts seem to have been hidden, and support local businesses in the process. As he points out, people often take what’s right in front of them for granted, but this project gives everyone an opportunity to appreciate all the talent, beauty, and liveliness that Stroudsburg has to offer.
That underlying motivation is shared with the talent behind the murals. Despite the different styles, paint strokes, and colors, many of the participating artists have agreed that their end goal was to create something that would make a positive impact for the downtown area. So what prompted that vision? Twelve of the participating artists share their thoughts on their role in the project, letting us all in the beautiful moment they shared together in May.
Skip below to see photos of each mural panel….
“The Living Room changed my life,” states Shane. Personal ties to the space for him and his girlfriend, Sonia Leticia, make their panel even more unique as it reminds them of everything they gained at this creative space in Stroudsburg. It’s where they first met and the first place Sonia showed her work. It’s a home of sorts. So that is exactly what inspired their final creation. Having been transformed by the space themselves, they wanted the panel to be “lively, organic” and “to show how much life the Living Room brings to Stroudsburg.”
“I’m trying to get more involved,” Joy states about why she jumped on board for the project, believing that “this is the start of artistic growth for Stroudsburg.” Inspired by her experience drawing for comic books, Joy wanted to tell a story with her piece, a story that would draw people into this local gem. Her vision was to convey Yard of Ale as a “warm, inviting place,” a place that appears “happy and exciting,” showcasing that this project truly bolsters the community as a whole.
A transplant from London, Stephen has witnessed street art his entire life, so to see something like this project in Stroudsburg is “exciting” for him–a sentiment shared by his wife, Susan. “We wanted to convey the restaurant as realistically as we could, but add creativity, making it warm and inviting, a place you want to step into to,” states Susan. Although inspired by various styles, this project allowed these two to collaborate to demonstrate what they call the “power of art for the benefit of the community.”
““Our piece is storybookish,” states Jody, “the place where you go in your mind when you’re reading a book.” He and Fran truly came together for this project, combining their different styles to create something that they believe enhances life here in Stroudsburg. Just like their own collaboration, they believe this project demonstrates a united front between businesses, artists, and people in general. “We’re all just people working toward the same goal of living well,” Jody expresses, and Fran follows, “There is so much diversity here, but together it looks beautiful.”
“I was inspired by it,” states Ashley about the project. “I wanted to explore the fact that “Main St. Jukebox isn’t ’just a record store.’ So much more is happening in there. To me, it’s a forum of culture. Resilient, contemporary, colorful, loud, and wonderful.” The desire to display the different elements of the arts found at this shop prompted Ashley to tie various details into her mural. Passersby might question some of them, but to Ashley, that is the point. “I would like to see people ask questions. What is this? Who made it? Can I help?” Involvement is the point.
“I love Monet and outdoor scenes of cafes, places you want to escape to. I pictured an old-school café, accordion music playing, romantic, at night.” Can you picture the scene as Anna describes her inspiration for her piece? Maybe, maybe not, but either way, Anna’s desire to draw people downtown is fed. “I want people to come and check out the places they don’t usually go to. There’s a lot in Stroudsburg that people don’t know about.” And as for Café Duet, Anna wants her piece to show that it’s a place to celebrate—to celebrate life.
“The arts are alive,” Andrea exclaims, and Kathleen agrees. Although the two create different types of art, Kathleen shares that they came together on this piece to “address the historic aspect of the building and the town.” For them, this project served as an opportunity to make everyone aware that we have talented individuals within our midst, individuals who want to beautify this place for everyone. “It never occurred to me to not participate,” says Andrea, and Kathleen adds to the sentiment by expressing her desire for others to get involved as well.
“I wanted to do more than paint red bricks,” admits Sean. Desiring to be more creative with his mural, he realizes that this project is an opportunity to show what a vital art community Stroudsburg has. “I’d like to see the town realize that the arts are all around them and that by nurturing them, you enrich and change the lives of everyone,” he says, and thus far, with all the positive feedback received, it is apparent that this project is achieving Sean’s goals.
Written by Diana Dreher