Author name: Peg Johnston

Murals for Free

Photo: Mural by Nathan Reese

The Dept of Public Art is offering 4 X 8' and 2 X 4' mural panels to people or businesses who want to display them. Last year 30 panels were painted at Mural Fest 2015 and most of them have been placed on boarded up buildings as a way to improve the appearance in blighted neighborhoods.  Eleven of them, on a food theme, were placed on a building on Chenango St. which is now being renovated into a Deli and Pizza Shop, so these are now available. Seven panels have been placed in community gardens–Liberty St. Garden, Roosevelt School Garden and Laurel Garden.

At the 2016 Mural Fest at Cheri Lindsey Park, another 16 panels were painted, most of them in a smaller format for ease in transport and placement. The panels are available for posting in Binghamton or any other area in Broome County. To request a panel contact DPA at Photos of available panels can be viewed at  the image gallery on this site, and choose dept of public art in the pull down menu.


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Living With Water: Resiliency

This October 7-8, 2016, the Binghamton community will host a conference on sustainability and resilience in our flood prone areas. Workshops on flood frequency, mitigation, preparedness, and the status of local efforts. On Saturday, there will be a tour of rain gardens and other measures at the newly build MacArthur School and in the evening a reading of an original play at KNOW Theatre about local flood stories.  Some mural panels (including the one pictured by Megan Smey) from the Dept of Public Art Mural Fest will be on display, and some water themed art will be on display at First Friday at the Cooperative Gallery as well as other venues.

For registration and a complete agenda of the Living With Water conference go here. (

Limited to 100 registrants! (No registration fee)

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Seeking Artists and Crafty Types for VINES Auction

VINES is now accepting pieces for the 5th Annual Coffee Bag Silent Auction. This event is a chance for your art, craft, trade or business to be featured and up for bid at your favorite Court St businesses Laveggio Roasteria, Chroma Cafe & Bakery, Gennarelli's Flower Shop, and The Loft at 99. Your talents will raise funds for VINES gardens and youth employees.

The challenge is to create an item that features burlap in some way. Burlap is a fantastic medium for creating art or crafts. You can sew it, paint it, upholster with it, put things in it, and more.

Here's how it works for participating artists:

Step 1: Sign up on our form by clicking HERE or visit Laveggio Roasteria, 101 Court St to sign up. Don’t know what you’re making – no problem! We just like to get an idea of who is participating each year.

Step 2: Purchase a $6 burlap coffee bag from Laveggio Roasteria or call VINES at 607-205-8108 to schedule a time to get one.

Step 3: Get those creative juices flowing! (pssst.. check out google or pinterest for ideas)

Step 4: Submit your piece by November 5th @ 1pm.  They may be delivered to the VINES office, 42 Chenango St, Monday–Friday 9am-5:30pm (call us at 607-205-8108 to confirm) or to Laveggio on Saturday November 5th between 9am-1pm.

Step 5: On the day of the event – November 12th 3-5:30pm – people will come and bid on your creation and raise money to support VINES’ gardens!!

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Paint at Mural Fest at Cheri Lindsey Park September 17th

Photo: Outlining the Mural Design on the Pool House

            The Dept. of Public Art and reBOLD  Binghamton are sponsoring the third annual Mural Fest at Cheri Lindsey Park September 17th from 11 am- 4 pm and will paint three buildings and many smaller panels to be placed in the community. “MuralFest 2016 will bring local creativity to improve the Park and to bring attention to the Northside,” said Mark Bowers a spokesperson for the event. Bruce Greig, a master muralist, will also paint a mural design by Amy Panella on the rear wall of the Binghamton Plaza. Panella, an art teacher, won a design contest with her mural that shows the rooftops of local landmarks with a sky that includes hot air balloons and the word “Binghamton” that will be visible from across the river.

            The pool house at Cheri Lindsey Park will be getting a new mural designed by local artist Zach Wilson, and local artists may volunteer to help paint that large mural. Another building at the park will get new murals on three sides of the park by artists who actively use the park and have painted murals there previously.

            At least 15 local artists will also paint original designs on wooden and fabric panels to be posted in the community. This is a continuation of the Blight mitigation project in which the Dept. of Public Art placed mural panels on 11 boarded up buildings. Other activities for children and adults will include upcycling projects, such as making kaleidoscopes out of cardboard containers, creating animal figures out of corrugated cardboard, a Box City, and other interactive activities. Tabling opportunities are available for artists and organizations.

            Support for MuralFest and the permanent murals it will leave behind has received support from many sources: Chenango Co Arts Council – NYS Decentralization grant with support from Governor Cuomo and the NUS Legislature and the Hoyt Foundation; the Community Foundation of South Central NY; the Tourism Fund of Broome County; the Mayor’s Office, City of Binghamton; Visions Credit Union; Lowe’s and Sherwin Williams Paint; Wegman’s; Daniels Paint and other businesses.   The public is being encouraged to support local artists at the event by donating to Mural Fest through the DPA via PayPal at  For more information or to volunteer, contact the

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Winner of MuralFest Design Contest Announced

Amy Panella won the design contest for a mural to be painted on the rear of the Binghamton Plaza during MuralFest 2016. Included in the design are the rooftops of several Binghamton landmarks as well as two special hot air balloons that have significance for Amy and her family.
65 designs were received by the Dept. of Public Art.  The review committee for the initial round included member(s) of Dept of Public Art, Northside Assembly, City Council, Boys and Girls Club, Broome County Department of Planning, Binghamton University, and local artists. The committee reviewed the designs without knowing who the artists were and ultimately narrowed the field to 8 finalists. The criteria were designs bold enough to be seen from across the river and yet interesting to look at from the closer perspective of the Chenango River Trail. "It was a tough process because there were so many great ideas and showed so much pride of place," commented Peg Johnston of the DPA.

The finalists were forwarded to the Mayor's Office, which contributed an additional $750 to the design award. The owner of the Binghamton Plaza, Michael Galesi, in consultation with Bob Murphy, Economic Development Director of the City, chose the winning design. Everyone in the process hopes that other sites can be found for some of the incredibly creative designs. DPA thanks all who contributed their time and talent to the contest. Congratulations to Amy Panella, a local high school art teacher.
Mural Fest is an all-inclusive event for residents, youth, students, and artists working together to spread public art throughout the area.  This year community members will accompany artists to paint murals throughout Cheri Lindsey Park and on the back of the Binghamton Plaza.  The event will also bring fun interactive art activities for all ages, demo painting and crafting by local artists, vendors, and music to heighten your creative experience throughout the day.

You can get there by car or bus, but consider a walk, a run, a bike ride, or a skateboard trip down the Chenango River Trail.  Come pick up a brush with your friends and families and paint with us at Cheri Lindsey Park on Saturday, September 17th from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
For more information check out the Department of Public Art Facebook page or contact us via email at

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A Good Walk to Mural Fest 2016

This year MuralFest is along the Chenango River Trail at Cheri Lindsey Park on the Northside of Binghamton. Early in the planning there was some grousing  from some folks who wanted Mural Fest to stay downtown, but if you are painting murals you have to go where you can paint—in this case, the rear of the Binghamton Plaza and the buildings at Cheri Lindsey Park. And, organizers of the Mural Fest felt that the Northside neighborhood deserved some attention. Much of the ongoing blight project, where original mural art on panels are placed on boarded up properties, were placed on buildings on the Northside.

There are several routes to get to Cheri Lindsey Park, going behind Binghamton Plaza, down Truesdell St. off Chenango St., or… taking a walk down the Chenango River Trail. This route will delight long term Binghamton residents and newcomers alike. The River Trail technically starts on the Southside at the Park Diner to the Washington St. Bridge but its real beauty is revealed at the Confluence as it follows the Chenango River, past Court Street, along the MLK Promenade to the East Clinton St. Bridge. Then it takes a jog down Water St. past Tech Works (a museum that preserves our industrial heritage) to a parking area along the flood wall.

From here it is a beautiful 10 minute walk to Cheri Lindsey Park and the Bark Park for dogs. On a recent walk along the trail, we saw an elegant white egret, a Great Blue Heron, and of course the usual charming gaggle of geese in the river. The Chenango widens at this point and a giant oak spreads out over the edge of the water. Wild flowers are abundant, Mullein, Joe Pye Weed, and a variety of Monarda that even my naturalist guide/pal had never seen.

The scene on the riverside is bucolic and enchanting in a way that is unexpected in the city; the opposite side, that backside of businesses and the Binghamton Plaza is less than inspiring, which is why the mural project for one of these walls is so important. But, even on this side, there have been some landscaping efforts that distract from the urban sprawl. Trees, bushes, and walkways create a pleasant walk which will only get better over time as the plantings mature. (DPA’s own Mark Bowers had a big hand in this Trail when he was a planner at the Dept. of Transportation.)

Mural Fest 2016 is Saturday, September 17th 11 am- 4 pm and there will be murals to be painted, as well as other art activities for all ages. You can get there by car or bus, but consider a walk, a run, a bike ride, or a skateboard trip down the Chenango River Trail. You won’t regret it.

–Peg Johnston

Photo: Monarda Citriodora


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Play and Play: An Evening of Movement and Dance–Bill T. Jones

Photo: Bill T. Jones at Binghamton Learning Exchange Fair in 1970's by Robert C. Johnston

On Saturday, September 24, at 7:30 p.m., the Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Company will perform Play and Play: An Evening of Movement and Dance, as part of Homecoming Weekend at Binghamton University, where Bill T. Jones studied classical ballet and modern dance. It was also at Binghamton University where Jones and Arnie Zane met as students and started their first dance company, American Dance Asylum, in 1973.

A multi-talented artist, Jones has a solid reputation as a choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer. He has received several awards including most recently, the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award in 2014, the National Medal of Arts in 2013, the Kennedy Center Honors in 2010 and numerous other awards and honors.  His ventures into Broadway earned Jones a 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography in the critically acclaimed, Fela, co-written, directed and choreographed by Jones. He also earned a 2007 Tony Award for Best Choreography in Spring Awakening.

Founded as a multicultural dance company in 1982, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company grew out of Jones and Zane’s eleven year artistic collaboration. Today the company is recognized as one of the most innovative and powerful forces in modern dance.  Jones along with his late partner, Arnie Zane, has created over 140 works for the company and received many commissions to create dances for other modern dance companies. In 2011, the company merged with Dance Theater Workshop to form New York Live Arts with Jones as the Artistic Director.

The evening’s performance contains three modern dance pieces, “D-Man in the Waters,” “Spent Days Out Yonder” and “Continuous Replay” which will be accompanied by live music. Portions of the program will contain nudity.

One highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the University Medal to Bill T. Jones by President Harvey Stenger. The University Medal is the highest honor bestowed by Binghamton University given at the discretion of the president to recognize path-breaking achievements and true excellence in one's career accomplishments; a distinguished commitment to Binghamton University, higher education and the pursuit of knowledge; and/or a demonstrated commitment to the betterment of society through exceptional leadership and mentorship of the next generation.

Single tickets are $45 for general public; $40 for faculty, staff, seniors; $30 for alumni; and $22 for students/children. Group discounts and subscription packages are available. Call the box office at 607-777-ARTS (2787) or log on to for details.

This performance is sponsored, in part, by Binghamton University Dean of Students, Binghamton University Alumni Association, Binghamton University Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Doubletree by Hilton Binghamton.

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Getting it Right on Suffrage

This is an article from the Women's Media Center, on the recent attention and in accuracies by the media on suffrage.

With the nomination of Hillary Clinton for the U.S. presidency, commentators have felt compelled to fill in historical background and say something about the fight for political power, especially for women’s right to vote, that preceded her. A flick of the finger on Internet search engines or a quick visit to the photo archives has, however, resulted in a torrent of “information” about the suffrage movement with holes as wide as Bella Abzug’s hat.

So here, for the next producers of suffrage chatter, are a few things to keep in mind.

1. The United States is not England. An ocean sits between the two. “Suffragette” was a derisive term used by the British press. In a verbal turnabout, English women adopted the term, but Americans generally preferred to call themselves the less sexy “suffragist.” The Brits (some) attacked private property with bricks and torches; Americans heckled public officials, and some eventually stood silent vigil at the White House gates. Check your captions to be sure the images do not come from across the pond.

2. Seneca Falls is a prompt, not a movement. That town in northern New York state was the site of a meeting in 1848, where black abolitionist Frederick Douglass urged Elizabeth Cady Stanton to add “the right to vote” to a list of rights she would argue for. The attendees were local people, mostly family groups. Susan B. Anthony was not there, but Quaker Lucretia Mott was.

While Seneca Falls may have been “the shot heard round the world” for women’s rights, it did not lead to anything nearly as quick or as unified as the American Revolution. It led, in fact, to more than seven decades of political sprawl, with groups of distinct interests and ideologies, all part of “the suffrage movement.”

3. 1848 is not 1920. The original tactic, for winning a variety of rights, was organizing state by state, holding large indoor “conventions” and collecting petitions. Stanton died in 1902 and Anthony in 1906, with the big dream of federal voting rights unfulfilled.



photo: collection of Peg Johnston

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Living With Water

Rust2Green Binghamton is bringing together a collective of government officials, community organization leaders, university partners, and artists to spearhead a new project called Living With Water (LWW), which aims to foster a more resilient and sustainable city by focusing in on the Susquehanna and Chenango rivers as important cultural and economic assets of the community. The first step in this process is to hear from you – we will host story circles across the Binghamton community in the month of August.
A story circle is simple – participants sit in a circle and tell personal stories based on a question surrounding the 2011 and 2006 floods. We believe that the voices of those who have experienced flooding should be central to the process of post-flood learning and community resilience.
The goal of these circles is to gather stories from people in the Binghamton community, engage these communities in dialogue around flooding, and share flood preparation resources. Ultimately, the stories will be compiled and used to shape a theatrical performance at the 2016 Living With Water Fall summit.
This summit, which is being held on October 7th and 8th, is being designed to commemorate the 5th and 10th anniversaries of the ‘06 and ‘11 floods as well as to educate and collaborate on strengthening flood recovery, response, and adaptation for the future.
Mon 8/1 1:30pm–3:30pm First Ward Senior Center
Tue 8/2  6:00pm–8:00pm 97 Riverside Dr, Binghamton, NY 13905
Mon 8/8  5:30pm 7:30pm  Broome County Public Library – Decker Room
Tue 8/16  6:00pm 8:00pm  Methodist Church
For press matters, contact: Sam Morrison;

Photo: Ada Stallman Collage

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Bailout of NY Nuclear Power

A landmark energy policy decision is about to made in New York, and unfortunately, it’s going the wrong direction. Over the last several months, the New York Public Service Commission has been considering a “Clean Energy Standard” to ensure that utilities are required to buy renewable energy and get the state to its 50% renewable energy by 2030 goal. Unfortunately, the plan also includes a requirement that utilities (and their customers) buy nuclear energy, and that we pay a premium for that nuclear power. Under the plan, Exelon Corporation would receive massive $7.6 billion subsidy in order to bail out unprofitable nuclear plants in upstate NY.

Supporters are being urged to write a letter to Governor Cuomo, NYS Energy Czar Richard Kauffman, and PSC Chair Audrey Zibelman about this massive nuclear bailout and a series of important questions that we need the Administration to answer. Organizations and elected officials are welcome to sign.

Thousands of New Yorkers have submitted comments supporting the renewable energy goals and opposing the nuclear subsidies. We also submitted a letter to Governor Cuomo signed by over 110 organizations opposing the nuclear subsidies. But it hasn’t been enough to counter the nuclear industry’s pressure. On July 8th, a new version of the nuclear bailout proposal was released and it’s even worse than the original. The proposed subsidies for nuclear plants went up from $270 million to $7.6 billion and the state would lock in these subsidies for the next 12 years. The public has been given just 10 business days to comment – until Friday, July 22nd.

Still, the Public Service Commission has done almost no analysis to answer basic questions that New Yorkers have about this plan to give Exelon Corporation almost $8 billion of our money. To our knowledge, they have not studied alternatives or shown that this is really necessary. Our sign-on letter addresses this issue and asks a series of pertinent questions.

 No public agency should fast-track an uncompetitive subsidy to one company like this – especially when so much is at stake. This plan would put twice the amount of money into nuclear bailouts as it would toward renewable energy. It’s a huge blow to our renewable energy future and to the ability of our residents, businesses, and municipalities to be able to afford electricity.

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