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Group Looks To Revitalize City Through Art

November 5, 2017 GMT

A local group is hoping to reinvigorate downtown Scranton through public art.

“We want to give back to the people of the community through art,” said Ryan Hnat. “And murals (are) the first step.”

Hnat and his wife, Amy Hnat, who own Electric City Escape, are hosting a Scranton Mural Project Gathering and Discussion on Thursday, Nov. 16, at their business on Linden Street in Scranton.

During the discussion, which is open to everyone, Hnat hopes to connect all different types of people — artists, art patrons, nonprofit and government officials and community members — through a conversation about where, what and how public art could elevate Scranton.

“We’re trying to match the artist with spaces,” he said. “It’s not necessarily a discussion about mural art but a networking event.”

The region has a number of murals, from Jessup to Pittston to Williamsport. Hnat also hopes to discuss updating some of the already existing public art.


“Murals are not meant to last forever, but need to be updated with the times,” he said.

A zipper on the side of The Times-Tribune building reveals what’s happening inside. A 14,000-square-foot mural illuminates the retaining walls of the Scranton Expressway. A painting of downtown Scranton covers part of the Lackawanna County Administration Building. The Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Rail Authority bridge in Jessup also features a mural. And on Fourth Avenue below the Eynon Street Viaduct, a new mural was painted in 2007 to update an original but faded mural painted in 1979.

“If we get more murals, then we can get more public art like sculptures,” Hnat said.

Sculptures have been a part of Scranton’s history for over 100 years, noted Mary Ann Moran-Savakinus, director of the Lackawanna County Historical Society.

The first statue at Courthouse Square of Christopher Columbus was erected in 1892, and a statue of George Washington followed in 1893, she said.

Creating a mural is a complicated process, said Hnat, who recently became a Scranton mural artist. Hnat, along with local artist Eric Bussart, painted a mural on the Dix Court side of the Level’s Bar and Grill building in downtown Scranton.

A building owner willing to display the work on a large or small wall must be found. Then the owner — who must be matched with an artist whose style complements his or hers — will come up with a mural concept together.

The process takes around six to eight months, Hnat said.

Murals can be costly. Hnat’s cost around $4,500, but a bigger mural could cost $10 to $20,000, he said.

From the discussion, Hnat hopes connections will also be made to obtain funding for public art. He hopes concepts will be in the works over the winter and murals ready to be created during the spring and summer months.

Hnat is another example of local community members coming together to help revitalize downtown Scranton. He hopes the project makes the region more attractive to new people and draw art enthusiasts to the area.

For details, visit the Scranton Mural Project Gathering & Discussion event on Facebook.

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