Commissioned by the Beacon Sloop Club in 2008 to celebrate the sloop Woody Guthrie’s 30th anniversary, the “River Beacons,” mural also celebrates the City of Beacon and its symbiotic relationship with the Hudson River. Education, art, music, food, agriculture, conservation, and community -- we interact with the river everyday in many ways. The mural is intended to remind us how important the Hudson River is in our lives.
River Beacons artist Rick Price took a very personal approach to designing the mural, which was enhanced by his involvement with various aspects of Beacon’s community. From coffeehouses to Second Saturdays and Strawberry Festivals to Hat Parades, Beacon is such a special place in which to live. Its year-round Farmers Market and proximity to rich sources of locally grown foods, balanced with its connection to the cultural metropolis of New York City, has made Beacon an ideal place to settle and let one’s roots grow deep.
The mural prominently features the sloop Woody Guthrie, which was the impetus for project. The Woody was built to provide free sails to the public, every day from April until October, and introduce people to the wonders of the Hudson River. But beyond the sloop, Rick dug into those communal roots he has put down as a five-year resident of Beacon. What grew from this investigation was a revelation of the ebb and flow relationship we have with the river, as the river also has with us.
Through out the mural one will find references to: the supportive community that has collected around the river; the environmental education that is so important for our children to learn; the deep heritage of art and music that celebrate our river; the nurturing of area farmers and the micro-economies of the river towns by eating local foods; the importance of maintaining open wild lands; the variety of ways we use the river for recreation: the importance of stopping pollution of the river; and new ways to generate energy for a sustainable future.
A final element to the mural that embraces all these xxx is the Native American Goddess, whose arms are cradled around the city of Beacon as she protectively watches over the Hudson Valley and the river her people called Muhheakantuck. She symbolizes the respect with which her people regarded the river and the relationship we need to reclaim with nature in order to preserve its heritage.
From concept to installation, the mural took about a year and a half to complete. It is 15 -feet high and 10-feet wide, and is painted with Nova Color acrylic paint on MDO plywood, with a custom-built aluminum frame that supports it and attaches it to the 172 Main St. building which houses the RiverWinds Gallery.
This project never could have happened if it was not for the hard work and dedication of two special people, Gigi Fris and Kevin Haydon. They both fought hard to get this project off the ground and through donations and grants tirelessly raised the funds to make it happen. Others who donated their indispensable services include Mike Conners of Balanced Builders who installed the mural, John Maffucci of Beacon Art Foundry who built the frame, Beacon City School District and Terry Kulisek, who provided the space and support in Beacon Studios to paint it, Michael Benzer of Hudson Beach Glass who allowed the mural to be placed on his building, and support from Mayor Steve Gold and the Beacon Arts Community Association (BACA).
The project was funded in part by grants from the Dutchess County Arts Council, The Woody Guthrie Foundation, the Puffin Foundation, the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadracentennial Celebration Grants, and the Clara Lou Gould Fund for the Arts.
Both postcards and posters of the mural may be purchased at RiverWinds Gallery.