Completed mural of Canandaigua’s train depot circa 1916

I really didn’t think it was possible to paint a 658 square foot exterior mural in fewer than 10 weeks, beginning in late summer in Upstate NY (where the weather is so unpredictable) but, I have pulled off the seemingly impossible! Canandaigua now has a brand new mural. I finished painting it just days ago.

“WHERE IS IT LOCATED?” The mural is located on the North and West exterior walls of the building which houses Murphy’s Tire Auto Service Center on Niagara Street in the City of Canandaigua. Being that the mural is painted on the corner of the building, it faces both Main Street and the park (called Canandaigua Inn Park) on the corner of Main and Ontario Streets. The trail is adjacent to the railroad tracks that cross Main Street (near the City Hall). There is a walking trail parallel to the railroad tracks. The mural is best viewed on the walking trail, and there is even a brand new bench, which, when seated on, gives you a view of the entire mural.

This is what the building looked like before the mural was painted.
The building after it was washed, sealed and primed. Todd Meyer did a fabulous job!

“WHY DID YOU PAINT THAT SCENE?” The scene depicts the old Canandaigua train depot, around 100 years ago, circa 1916. The old train depot building still exists, it is now the Beehive Brew Pub and Twisted Rail Brewing Co., located just a short way down the tracks heading East. I painted a picture of how the depot would have looked facing West if you were looking at it from Pleasant Street. In the painting, you can see the back of the old Canandaigua Hotel, which burned in the early 1970’s. There is, of course, a train in the painting, pulling in to the station. Travelers with packages are mulling-about on the platform.

Old postcard depicting Canandaigua train station. This was a primary inspiration for the mural.
Me, on Day One.

“WHY IS IT IN THAT LOCATION?” Currently, there is only one rail line currently operating in that location, but back in its heyday, the Canandaigua station was a bustling hub for up to 30 rail lines per day. The tracks were between the mural and the stone wall on the South border of Canandaigua Inn Park on the corner of Main and Ontario Streets. This park used to be the front lawn of the Canandaigua Hotel built in 1852. The train depot was built a while later in 1890, just East of the hotel.

This section of the City had become an overgrown eyesore, but due to the efforts of some dedicated volunteers, it has now been revitalized and made beautiful. The mural brings awareness to this historic piece of land. There are so many stories about life a hundred years ago when travel by rail impacted all who lived here.

Notice the door is completely hidden! (This door is no longer functional.)

“WHO HIRED YOU?” Some very generous individuals who live in Canandaigua commissioned me to paint the mural. No, I did not receive any money from the City, the Town or the County government. This was all made possible through private donation. These individuals have given a tremendous (and anonymous!) gift to the community in the form of a mural that can be enjoyed by the “masses”. I was so honored that they trusted me with such an undertaking! I knew I was capable of pulling it off, I just didn’t know if I could get it done before Winter. They assured me that if I needed to finish the mural in the Spring of 2015 that would have been fine with them. They were honestly some of the nicest clients with whom I have ever had the pleasure of working. They were always so supportive, honest, and encouraging! Their goal was to preserve the history of that area in a way that would make people stop and take notice of the past. I believe they accomplished their goal. They are extremely pleased with the result, and have had a really pleasant experience putting it all together.

Here’s me in front of the mural “in-progress”, to give you a sense of the scale of the mural.
Here’s a closer look at the steam locomotive.

“HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU?” I started on August 30th, 2014 and finished November 4, 2014. I worked almost every day, even weekends. I had to work closely with the Finger Lakes Railway with regard to working in their right-of-way. I had to follow their strict safety procedures and guidelines for when I could work in certain areas. I also have a family! So there were a few days here-and-there that I did not paint, but instead attended my kids’ sports activities, and attended a cousin’s wedding.

So much work went into getting the perspective correct. I really used the corner of the actual building as an advantage in creating the effect.

“DID THE TRAIN GO THROUGH WHILE YOU WERE PAINTING?”  Yes! A few times. Pretty exciting!

The train coming through! Don’t worry, I was very safe at all times.

“WHAT DID YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT THIS PROJECT?” The many, many, many people who came up to me and told stories, asked questions, took photos, said thank you, admired, critiqued, introduced themselves, and ultimately created an unforgettable experience for me and my crew. I’ve painted dozens of murals, but I have not before done an exterior mural this large, out in the public eye, for such a long period of time. Some people stopped every day to say hello. Some people only stopped once. Several people made a lasting impression! I will share some of my stories in another blog post!

Completed mural of Canandaigua’s train depot circa 1916

I encourage you to see this mural in person if you can, because there is so much detail (like the passengers on the platform in front of the station) that I haven’t yet been able to convey accurately in photos. I will be working on getting some more detailed photos soon.