KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)– The recently formed Street Art Society of NEPA is in the midst of one of their first major projects.
After securing a state grant, exterior walls of local businesses in Edwardsville, Kingston and Luzerne Borough will be graced with larger-than-life murals. Each depicts nature and the communities they represent along the west side of the Susquehanna River.
“Murals affect change and we’re hoping that bringing murals to our area will help to increase not only the aesthetics but the economic development and uplift the spirits of the people that live here in general,” said Street Art Society of NEPA president Jenna Casaldi.
“There’s a lot of things to do here in Wilkes-Barre and the valley,” added the society’s treasurer Laura Holbrook. “We think that if we can bring these murals to town and some extra art, we can make this place a little more inviting and hopefully bring in some tourism.”
“Other people see it and they get excited about it so once you start doing some murals and some other things to beautify your neighborhood, other people want to do it,” noted board member Helen Barosky. “We want to bring attention to our beautiful communities here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.”
Local businesses got the opportunity to express interest in participating and local artists sent in idea drafts so that the society could carefully pair the two for a completely community-driven project. The artists have a unique range of mediums and styles but are all more than eager to contribute to the mission.
“I’m just about the art. Whatever else it does is great, but I just like to see beauty and have people see beauty and enjoy it,” said Jason Kresock, whose contribution is just off Wyoming Avenue in Kingston. “This particular project is really impressive to me because there’s going to be 10 very large scale murals on the west side of the river within six months’ time. For a place as depressed on art as we are, to have the public see 10 full-size murals all at once is a great, great feat.”
“I was really excited to hear about the project and think it’s a great project for the region to bring in some of this mural art and color to the streets,” added Maggie Willis, whose mural of the Pennsylvania state fish brook trout, will be seen on the side of a diner in Luzerne Borough. “When I heard about the project, I immediately thought ‘I have to be involved in this.’ It’s been such a great project in part because of all the positive feeling and feedback that the community has been giving me as I’ve been doing this. I’m grateful for the chance to have the community’s trust to paint on this wall. It’s been a great process.”
The first of the murals on an old arcade building in Edwardsville was completed in July. One other has also been finished. As it stands, two are underway and six more are in the works to help promote tourism and a community sense of pride.
There are loose plans in the works to establish a tour or scavenger hunt-like smartphone application to help visitors locate all 10 murals and get the full experience on the west side of the Susquehanna.