Rosendale's Rose Murals, by Lady Pink
● Text by Rod Bicknell, of Rosendale Discovered
● Photos by Rod Bicknell & Alan Krassowski
Lady Pink, an internationally renown graffiti and street art artist and impresario dating from the 1970s NYC subways, has gifted Rosendale (population ~6000) with worldly art on a big scale.
She has graced our town with 24 sparkling murals. Her band of professional and recreational artists – both local and imported – labored heavily. By Independence Day 2022, Lady Day had declared the street art project finished.
“We’re doing a good deed to beautify a town and bring economic prosperity,” said Lady Pink on her Instagram page.
‘A week long painting extravaganza’
“Artists from as far as Japan,” said Lady Pink Tuesday on her Instagram page, “came to paint roses and to beautify a town. It was a week-long painting extravaganza that filled hearts with joy.”
Lady Pink, born Sandra Fabara in Ecuador in 1964 but growing up in NYC, said a donation from Henry Chalfant had made the Rosendale project possible. Henry Chalfant is an American photographer and videographer most notable for his work on graffiti, break dance, and hip hop culture. One of Chalfant’s prints, notes Wikipedia, is held in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Lady Pink also noted that “@marthacoopergram legendary photographer came up to shoot the project.”
“I’m proud of my assistants” on this job said Lady Pink. Those dozens of volunteers, young and old, local and imported, “who worked tirelessly for a town that isn’t ours painting murals that we normally charge a lot for and giving it away for free. Not logical! But sometimes we have to use our superpowers to inspire not just to profit.”
Few in Rosendale knew the murals were coming. The Town Board was not consulted, and the building inspector was not involved. Street art differs from graffiti art in that street art is painted with the permission of the property owner. Who eventually legally owns the copyright on the art remains in question. Theoretically, like any other creation, it is copyrighted to the creator. But what if the property owner, or a new owner, wishes to repaint the building?
‘Freedom of expression’
Rosendale Supervisor Jeanne Walsh said in an email, “The property owners have the right to paint their buildings how they choose. This is freedom of expression.”
The supervisor added that she can see no way that the murals will bring economical prosperity to the town.
The supervisor noted that she found out about the project the day before the painting commenced through an article she viewed.
“It is unfortunate that the murals have caused so much controversy among our residents,” the Supervisor said. “Some people love them, some don’t like them at all, but the Town can not tell the property owners no. Those that don’t care for the murals should remember it’s paint so they’re not permanent.”
As of July 2022 some of the murals seem to be incomplete, with cement walls and unfilled in roses still visible, which is perhaps a little distressing. Examples are the two on the southern side of the liquor store facing the bridge, one on the Creekside Bar & Bistro’s wall. That mural’s design and painting were actions from the project’s closing days… and it shows.
But there the mural is, bearing the Lady Pink stamp of authenticity and completion. Perhaps Jenna Morello’s stunning bright Rose Red mural to the left of the other two liquor store southern murals distracts from them.
These are the three murals that will be confronted with certainty by everyone entering Rosendale over the blue bridge on Route 32 from the south.
“We’re doing a good deed to beautify a town and bring economic prosperity,” said Lady Pink when initiating the rose project. “It’s our artist super-power!”
Rosendaleans seem split on the street art murals, for and against. Few stand in the middle but many are cautious and say they like some murals but not others. Those who are for or against the murals are adamant in their views, frequently insisting their opponents are idiots. Both sides battle each other fiercely over the murals’ depiction of town history or their lack thereof.
Lady Pink’s current hometown of Gardiner is not too far away, and she will make an effort to complete the works – regardless of what else she plots to do with the collection she built in Rosendale.
In the meantime, we await the promised economic prosperity from tourists eager to view Rosendale’s Famous Roses.