Local Artist Adds Beauty and Messages of Support to Boarded Up Business

If you’ve driven past Northeastern Fine Jewelry on Western Avenue recently, you’ve seen the murals painted by local artist Kendra Farstad. Flowers, a peace sign, and messages of love and hope, Farstad’s paintings take a bleak boarded up store front and showcase how art can be transformative in times of social discord.

Farstad is a local artist who grew up in Niskayuna. It was that connection, in fact, that led her to the jewelry store, a family owned business of former classmate Gregg Kelly.

“I saw Gregg’s posts on social media, and I felt sad that they were boarding up the business to protect it,” Farstad explained. So she reached out to the friend, and asked if she could use the blank plywood as a canvas for political art.

Within an hour Kelly and Farstad had cooked up a plan, including the wording and the concept. The only struggle was timing: it had to be completed the following day, and within the next 24 hours.

Farstad was both energized and overwhelmed. An artist who historically maps out her murals before painting them and spending weeks on each piece, she went to work and drew it all by eye. The entire project was completed from 8 am to 7 pm in a single day.

“It isn’t perfect,” she groaned, noting the words were off center.

But the message is directly on point. “We’re done being silent and complicit in the face of violence against others,” Farstad expressed with conviction. “We all have the capacity to do something. We all have something to bring to the table.”

Farstad’s art has brought beauty within protest to Western Avenue. She has already started making mandalas with political chants written in them, and hoping she can get them up on Etsy to raise money for the Black Lives Movement, “or bail money for protestors” she added. Wearing her Frida Kahlo shirt, the artist smiled with enthusiasm. “We aren’t going away. Until this problem is solved, and people are safe, we are going to keep speaking and creating art.”

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