Murals 33 in Rochester, New York

In my very biased opinion, each of my murals has a unique story about how they came to be.  I follow random links that take me around the world to remote corners that most people never even consider visiting.  I love to see how the connections unfold.  I should be used to all of this by now, but I still think the story that brought me to Rochester is one of the more unusual ones.

I collect a lot of things as I travel.  There is no particular theme or item, rhyme or reason.  I just buy what I like when I see it.  And, it makes my home look like I do a lot of shopping at Pier One Imports.  But, truth be told, I do the importing myself and skip the middleman.

As it turns out, I tend to like hats.  I'm not sure why.  I don't wear most of the ones I collect in my travels.  However, I buy them and hang them around my house on the walls, atop bedposts, and stuffed in display cases.  At last count, I have something like forty of them.  No, there isn't much wall space left for any new ones.  And, I don't think that will stop me from making future purchases.

One of the earlier hats I collected was on my first trip to Haiti during the summer after I graduated from college.  If I remember correctly, I bought the hat in the northern part of the country before riding a donkey up the mountainside to a Haitian fortress. The hat was woven from banana leaves.  Before that summer was over, I wore that hat all over the island and wore it out.

Somehow, somewhere in my moving across four continents, I lost that hat. It was like losing an old friend.  And, after my recent trip to Haiti, I was inspired to find another one.  This time I didn't have to find a donkey, a mountainside, or a guide to take me to the Citadel.  This time, I turned to the Internet.  Yep, Google is my best friend these days.  And, my best friend didn't let me down.  Instead, it brought me to Stacey.

In a matter of minutes, I located the hat I wanted.  According to the story that accompanied my new hat, it was purchased in northern Haiti by someone going to the Citadel about the same time I bought my original hat.  This hat was in pristine condition, way better than my long lost treasure, and I couldn't have been happier.
Reunited with an old friend
But, the story didn't end there.

At the bottom of all my email messages is a link to explore my travels, clip art, and murals.  Stacey took the time to check out that link.  And, if you really check it out, it could take days.  Then, she wrote to me, "What would it take to get you to paint a mural in Rochester?"

And, that's what brought me to New York.

The location of the mural is at Entrance 3 of a huge building at 30 Hart Street in downtown Rochester.  It used to be some clothing warehouse in days gone by.  Now days, part of the building was a Catholic school, part was a Head Start program for wee ones, and another part was a mentoring program for charter high school students.  At Entrance 3, you find your way to the Head Start and mentoring program.

The mural design needed to capture the international flavor of the students at the schools as well as blend in a mixture of wee ones with mentored teens.  The design welcomed people in English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and Amharic.  The art was linked together with hats.  In the Head Start program, the children played with hats of a fireman and a baker.  In the mentoring program, students studied and trained for different professions where they might wear the hats of a chef, the police or a firefighter.  At the end of the mural was the hat that every student hoped to wear, a graduation cap.

It was a hat that brought me to Rochester in the first place.  Stacey's collection of international hats, numbering around thirteen hundred, was simply mind-boggling. (Check out Horizon Hats here!) I was so pleased that for this particular mural, it was a collection of hats that gave the design a unifying theme.