Before many people enjoyed their Sunday breakfast, Atena Crain was getting her hands dirty.
“I’m actually a personal stylist. So when it comes to art, I love it, ”Crain said. “I love beautiful things, I love glitter.”
Crain was one of more than a dozen volunteers helping paint the concrete barriers that line two blocks of Henry Street in downtown Saratoga Springs.
“It looks really creative and cool and it’s going to make the streets look better,” said Crain, who came from her home in Schenectady County.
“We love to have fun and it’s a really fun process,” said Erin Maciel, one of the people who came up with the idea for the project. “You can use a spray gun, you have to mix the paint and all the bright colors. “
Maciel is a landscape architect and a member of the spa town’s Complete Streets Committee.
“I’m so excited to see how it’s going here at Saratoga,” Maciel said. “Urban art is something that we can just add in another layer. Public art brings dynamism to our cities and it changes the way we see, perhaps, a mundane platform. “
Most of the materials were donated by Jonathan Gross’ company, Ruby Lake Glass.
“It’s a really cool project,” Gross said. “What we use to spray on these blocks is color coded glass which is mixed in a waterproof binder. Everything is completely green, it’s natural and it’s organic so it’s biodegradable.
Organizers say it’s not just about making the street more beautiful and welcoming.
Catherine Hover, owner of Saratoga Paint and Sip Studio, says the barricades were a lifeline for business owners here as they allowed them to stretch out on the street and provide seating outside throughout the pandemic.
“When COVID hit, I was very scared,” said Hover, who also owns Broadway’s Palette, a cafe and coworking space geared towards women. “If it hadn’t been for the outdoor environment we were able to create during COVID, I certainly wouldn’t be standing here yet. “
While the barriers were initially meant to be temporary, Hover says she and neighborhood restaurateurs are hoping they will be maintained forever.
“My point is that we are investing in the longevity of their presence here,” Hover said of Sunday’s paint project. “We love them for the streets, we love them for business, so why not make a silver COVID liner out of them and keep them here all year round?”
For volunteers like Crain, this is a chance to help these businesses and beautify the community they love.
“I love watching that glitter go into this glue,” Cain said as she helped mix the paint. “It’s my favorite part so I’m having a lot of fun.”