All Signs Point to Downtown | Sculpture in the Streets

Sat, 06/01/2013 - 10:00am - Sat, 05/31/2014 - 12:00am

Welcome to the 2013 – 2014 Sculpture in the Streets exhibit All Signs Point to Downtown - the outdoorGhost SignGhost Sign art program telling the story of downtown Albany as the retail hub for the Capital Region prior to the creation of suburban malls. @AlbanyBID | #albanyghostsigns


The project will restore several now faded or lost retail signs on the sides of historic buildings throughout downtown Albany, New York - from full sign repainting to partial restoration of sign pieces that can no longer be read. Design and historical accuracy is being followed and ensured through extensive research and assistance from the Morris Gerber Photo Collection at the Albany Institute of History and Art, the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation (National Park Service) and the City of Albany’s Historic Planner. Additional guidance is being offered by experts such as downtown architect John G. Waite. 


“Similar to stamps on a passport, the painted text on the bricks illustrates where we have been as a community,” said John G. Waite, FAIA, “Now that history will be preserved for years to come,”


The exhibit will restore ghost signs on Downtown buildings including:

  • 370 Broadway
  • 376 Broadway
  • 384 Broadway
  • 120 Madison Avenue
  • Potentially one to three additional buildings (to be announced shortly)

Ghost SignGhost SignOriginally the building advertisements were painted by Wall Dogs, muralists from the 1890 to the mid 1900s who painted advertisements on billboards and walls in cities and towns throughout the country. Five regional artists were selected for this year’s project through an open call for artists. Those artists include: Michael Conlin, Chip Fasciana, John Reilly, Erik Savage (RADICAL!) and Frank Smith. Collectively, these modern day Wall Dogs hold over fifty years of experience in sign painting with two of the artists holding over 30 individual years of experience, in addition to owning their own sign companies. Three of the artists have previously worked on restoration projects as well as have worked with Historical Albany Foundation. See artist biographies below.


Before the creation of suburban malls, downtown Albany was home to hundreds of department stores, retail shops, and retail related services. Today, Downtown is experiencing a resurgence of interest in locating retail due to the increasing residential population and is credited as the inspiration behind this year’s Sculpture in the Streets program.


Community and economic development consultant Peter Kageyama once wrote, ‘Arts and culture are what makes a city fall in love with itself.’ Through the restoration of ghost signs throughout Downtown, the hope is to highlight future potential for retail attraction in Downtown while preserving an important part of Albany’s history for generations to come.


Excitement for the exhibit continues to grow, be sure to check out these stories and videos from WNYT Albany and The Business Review.



The Garden Party


The Downtown Albany BID and Omni Development Company Inc., will host the 2013 - 2014 Sculpture in the Streets Garden Party to kick off this year’s exhibition. The fundraising event is slated for the evening of June 14, 2013 at the Liberty Park (Hudson Avenue and Liberty Street) from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM in downtown Albany, NY. Liberty Park is not only one of the oldest public spaces in Albany, but one of the oldest in the country.


The 2013 - 2014 Sculpture in the Streets program is funded through the generous support of sponsors and grants. The exhibit is underwritten in part by, The Beltrone Group, LLC, Capitalize Albany, George R. Hearst III, KeyBank, KPMG, M & T Bank, National Grid, O’Connell and Aronowitz, Omni Development Company Inc., and The Palace Theatre.


Selected 2013 - 2014 Sculpture in the Streets Artists


Michael Conlin

Originally from Long Island, NY Conlin has been a working artist for over 15 years. Based in Albany, NY Conlin works as a Muralist and Sign Painter. Some of his local clients include the Honest Weight Food CO-OP, City Beer Hall, the Albany Barn, 42 degrees and the Spot Café in Saratoga. He has also exhibited in numerous solo shows throughout the country as well as many First Friday shows in Albany. Currently, he is working on several ongoing sign and mural projects in the area.


Chip Fasciana

An independent artist living and working in Albany, New York, Fasciana is one of the founders of the critically acclaimed Albany Underground Artists. This past year he created his largest and most successful body of work to date, entitled "Life and Death."  Almost all of the pieces constructed were made of hundreds of pounds of bread and animal bones. The show was hung as a solo exhibition at Albany Center Gallery and was touted by The Daily Gazette as one of the Capital Region's top ten exhibitions of the year, sharing the bill with shows at The Tang Museum and Mass MOCA. He was recently presented "Artist of the Year" award by Albany Center Gallery. Fasciana holds extensive experience in art handling, historical preservation, murals, signage and interior design projects.


John Reilly

New York sign maker, John Reilly, has been in business since 1982, serving the signage needs for companies, businesses, organizations and individuals alike. As a full -service signage company that provides a wide range of services from large scale corporate and industrial signage to personalized hand-crafted signs, John is a detailed artists committed to producing design that is not only esthetic but produces results.


Erik Savage

Also known as "RADICAL!" Savage is an artist living and working in New York’s Capital Region. His work has been exhibited locally, nationally and internationally in cities such as New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, and Copenhagen, Denmark. As a current student, Savage has already received his A.S. in Fine Arts from Hudson Valley Community College. 


Frank Smith

As a professional tradesman, Smith has been using his skills to make unique, creative, and custom signs since he founded Frank Smith Signs in 1980. Originally, all of his work was hand lettered or calligraphy. From NYC storefronts to unique camp, Smith has since expanded his work to include signs carved and gilded signs, illustration, logo design, storefront, office, & vehicle lettering, menus, menu boards and so forth.


About Sculpture in the Streets


Started in 2005, the Sculpture in the Streets program was designed to offer free, public art in various locations throughout Downtown for employees, residents and visitors alike.  From local and regional artists to national and world renowned artists like Seward Johnson and kinetic sculpture George Rickey, the exhibits boasts an annual draw of over 10,000 people into Downtown. Most recently, the 2012 – 2013 installation asked regional artists how they are connected to the City of Albany and its history and to paint their impression on oversized Dutch clogs that were then placed throughout Downtown.


Photographer: Luke Bovill