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The borough of Honesdale hasn’t always been known as a Mecca for the arts, but community members such as Paul Plumadore and Jim Tindell are working to change that. As curators for “The Great Wall of Honesdale,” an art installation at the south end of Main Street that features mural-sized works by local artists, they have goals in sight for the future of the arts in the community. They are hoping to have the Great Wall fully funded by patron donations and sponsors by the year 2020. They are also working to continue local artists’ exposure by finding placement for the pieces after they are taken down.
“We’d hate to see them just wind up in someone’s basement,” said Tindell. “They’re too good for that. Too much work goes in.”
The pieces that comprise the wall are anything but dainty—each is 11-by-17 feet—so their new homes can’t necessarily be tacked above someone’s fireplace. Still, they should be somewhere where the art can be enjoyed, said Plumadore and Tindell.
Other community members share in that philosophy. Nancy Kiesendahl of Kiesendahl + Calhoun Fine Art, Ltd. has a passion for art that goes beyond casual admiration to full-on activism. She arranges an annual art exhibit at The Lodge at Woodloch that features artists from all over the globe. One of these featured artists, Lindy Foss-Quillet, had an abstract painting displayed on last year’s Great Wall, thanks to the help of Kiesendahl.
The pieces shown on The Great Wall are rotated out annually. Kiesendahl, who worked tirelessly to bring the painting all the way from Paris, wasn’t ready to see the moment end for her piece, “Falling Water,” just yet. So, she reached out to Plumadore and Tindell. Together, they painted a beautiful idea of their own.
It started out as a casual conversation among friends, one that Olivia Santo, owner of the homegoods shop Gather, was part of by coincidence. That led to an idea: to repurpose Quillet’s painting as the backdrop of Maude Alley, where it could live on to be further marveled. Santo set that plan into motion, and other local businesses chipped in.
The painting had to be cut in certain places to fit on the fence area of the Alley. “It works because it’s abstract,” said Santo. “I’m not sure that we could have made it work if it were an actual picture of something that couldn’t be cut, but it turned out nicely.”
Glenn Khoury from Encore Outdoor was in charge of resizing and reframing the painting to fit into its new surroundings. “It took several ladders, a whole day of work and lots of Ibuprofen the next day, but it was well worth it,” he said. “It’s a real feel-good project. Jim and Paul’s enthusiasm about it is contagious.”
Santo’s goal was to create a pleasant ambiance for regular shoppers, but also for those coming for special events, like regularly hosted artisan fairs. “I just wanted it to be a place where people could come and hang out and talk about it.”
“Olivia was instrumental in all of this, she made it happen,” said Plumadore, as he stood proudly next to the new, reframed art. “There’s a lot of individual civil activity with local arts, and it’s the young people who are doing it.”
“It’s attracting more young people!” Santo chimed in.
Tindell then went on to talk about the pieces on the Great Wall currently, holding up photos of several as he gushed. One such piece, a painting called “A Girl and Her Dog,” by Stacie Lynam, had a charming backstory. Lynam tried painting for the first time ever at a local “Paint and Sip” event, and if you look closely, you can see a small red smudge in the moon. “It’s red wine,” said Tindell, smirking as he said so.
“It just goes to show that anybody can do art. Anybody can contribute. The wall is for anybody,” he added. The group plans to locate homes for as many of the Wall’s current pieces as they can, Lynam’s included, throughout the coming months.
Plumadore and Tindell rely on community efforts, such as those from Kiesendahl and Santo, to make projects such as the one in Maude Alley and the Great Wall itself possible. They have a vision that extends beyond giving the arts new life and greater exposure.
“We’re trying to think… more. We’re thinking bigger. We’re thinking about the artists,” said Tindell.
Half of the funds needed to put The Great Wall together come from the artists themselves, who have to pay to have their work featured. Plumadore and Tindell want to change this by raising money, which they plan to use for 2020’s Great Wall installation.
“Anything helps, and it’s a community effort,” said Plumadore. “It’s a thrill to support local artists.”
For more information on The Great Wall of Honesdale, or to make donations, visit www.thegreatwallofhonesdale.com.