Rosendale got a little more flowery recently and residents are noticing. There are new rose-themed murals popping up all over Rosendale with the help of Lady Pink and her army of 30 volunteers who are on a mission to give some more artistic flair to Rosendale’s businesses. These volunteers range from high school students to a 78-year-old. Among the other artists who joined the effort are retired art teachers, social workers, gallery owners and local artists.
Lady Pink started this project on June 23 with her protege Muckrock [Muck]. Muck did the painting of three giant, 20-foot roses on the rooftop of Fann’s Plaza to the top right of the MyTown Marketplace. This set of roses was completed in only six hours by Muck and three assistants. MyTown Marketplace’s manager, Amy Maragliano, said “It wasn’t there one day, and the next it was.”
The free-painted roses in Rosendale will only last a week, and during this week Lady Pink is donating murals to any that ask. After July 3 she says “no more free roses.”
Lady Pink started her career at NYC’s High School of Art and Design and is known for her paintings on subway trains. Within a year she was going to art galleries, and at 17 she was rubbing elbows with some of the most famous people in the art world, even meeting Andy Warhol at a party. She also had a leading role as Rose Lady Bug in the 1983 movie “Wild Style,” which is touted to be the first hip-hop motion picture.
Lady Pink’s paintings are in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Brooklyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and even the Groningen Museum in the Netherlands.
She hopes to inspire other artists with her work and has inspired some of her friends to change their recent plans in order to help with the Roses on Rosendale project. Lady Pink and her professional friends assisting her in this effort normally get thousands of dollars in fees when painting murals just like these, yet they are donating their artwork because she asked them to.
Lady Pink runs a mural company and charges for commissions in high-end businesses, yet she is not charging Rosendale landlords anything this week. She operates as a non-profit, but says that “any support is welcomed.” This mural project is fully self-funded by Lady Pink and her husband, Roger Smith.
The effort to make these murals has been supported by local businesses like The Big Cheese and Santa Fe Burger Bar, which is feeding and providing coffee to the artists painting there, while other businesses bring water, offer the restroom and give monetary donations.
Lady Pink said, “The town is delighted with the project, and it shows.” She currently plans on having 16 walls in total painted. Some of these are murals by a multitude of artists, such as the Bottle Depot on Route 32 that’ll have six artists side by side as a collaboration.
This project is not without controversy as is consistent with previous reactions to many past public art projects. Local town historian Bill Brooks said that he “did not know much about the murals before June 30th,” and, after going on 57 years as a barber on Main Street, he said that “the murals will be good and bring a conversation to town like the Rosendale Festival and Pickle Fest does … Everyone has a right to an opinion on the murals, and the conversation won’t hurt.” Town Supervisor Jeanne Walsh was not available for comment before print.
Lady Pink has done similar projects in the past as part of an annual art donation, choosing a different community each year such as Studio 89 in Highland, a new art gallery. The owner, Amy Dooley, offered her wall to Lady Pink, who whipped up a gorgeous mural that got the town noticed and written up in the New York Times real estate section. She hopes to do the same for Rosendale, “make it a destination place, a fun town with roses everywhere. It’s perfect for this social media-crazed society.” she said.
She just loves doing the murals, she said. “To paint large on a permission wall is better and just for the sheer fun of it … many of my friends exhibit traditional canvases in fine art venues, but giving us a big building to paint is much more fun.”
Lady Pink has an upcoming workshop at the Women's Studio Workshop, teaching mural painting for a week in mid-July. During this workshop, she and the eight students who signed up will be painting a rotating mural wall that changes twice a year on site at WSW. The payment that WSW is providing to Lady Pink for the workshop is going back into this project to paint the roses in Rosendale. Lady Pink said, “Painting the town is setting an example to them how art applies in real life, How to Make a Positive Impact on a Community 101.”
Lady Pink will be attending the Rosendale festival the weekend of July 16, to see the reactions to the finished murals, and she said, “I feel that the Hudson Valley is my community now, not NYC anymore.”
People who have helped create these murals include Roger Smith and assistants Matt’O, Chloe Mosbache, and Nikola.