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Group Planning Fundraisers For Creating Public Art In Scranton

July 9, 2018

A group of artists imagine a future in Scranton where public art enhances the city, not only attracting art-loving tourists but also setting mural artists up for success.

What began as a popular downtown mural and the Scranton Mural Project Gathering and Discussion in November has led to the Northeast Art Project or NEAP, spearheaded by local business owner and teacher Ryan Hnat and a group of artists.

Since the first meeting, the group established itself as for-profit, although it doesn’t necessarily plan on making a profit, and decided on a name. NEAP held two more meetings since and met with many people who want to be involved with the group, Hnat said. They’ve also been researching and visiting other cities — including Richmond, Virginia — with strong mural programs.

“We learned a lot from the cities we went to visit and there’s some awesome stuff that the city of Scranton can do,” Hnat said.

Before beginning NEAP, Hnat and fellow artist Eric Bussart created the popular Scranton mural on the Levels Bar and Grill building in Dix Court. In May, Bussart painted a domed utility shed covered in graffiti on Wyoming Avenue.

The utility shed was an eyesore before Bussart’s painting, said Scranton Councilman Wayne Evans.

“It’s the perfect example of what you can do with public art,” Evans said.

The councilman frequently walks by the Scranton mural and sees people taking pictures of the art or with it.

“We want ‘aha’ moments when you come up on them,” said Hnat. “You see this mural and you’re like ‘whoa, where did this come from?’ I feel like we achieved that with the Scranton mural.”

NEAP has many projects in the works, including a mural-themed scavenger hunt on July 21 that will serve as a fundraiser to support future public art. The hunt will start at Electric City Escape on Linden Street, owned by Hnat and his wife, Amy Hnat.

They also will create a mural in Scranton’s Center Street and are hoping to paint two more in the city this year. Hnat hopes to run a large fundraising campaign to fund all three projects. Murals can cost anywhere from $4,500 to $20,000.

NEAP is also planning a mural artist tryout for August, a full day event where any artists who wants to create public art in Northeast Pennsylvania can come out and create an excerpt of a mural or idea.

“The goal is to have 10 or 12 artists painting on one wall area,” he said, adding NEAP will provide the paint for the event.

Hnat hopes with more artist exposure, people who could donate wallspace will learn more about the group and know they have the region’s best interests in mind. Hnat eventually hopes to put down the paint brush and focus on hiring and commissioning local artists to create public art.

The project is just as much about filling the city with art as it is with gaining exposure for the area’s many talented local artists, he said.

Evans is very supportive of what the group is trying to accomplish and hopes the city can provide some financial support.

“Public art is critical to the city as far as our vibrancy,” Evans said. “It attracts interest, attracts tourists, attracts positive energy for the downtown.”

For more details or to see photos of the NEAP’s work, visit Northeast Art Project on Facebook.

To sign up for the scavenger hunt, visit www.electriccityescape.com

Contact the writer:

kbolus@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 x5114;

@kbolusTT on Twitter

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