The O+ festival in Kingston is a 3-day event where artists and musicians exchange their participation for basic health care, dental and wellness services. Billed as “The Art of Medicine for the Medicine of Art”, the growing Kingston event features many forms of art media including paint, sculpture, dance, performance art and music. The first Kingston O+ festival took place in 2010. The most visible aspects of the festival are the beautiful, and often large-scale, murals seen throughout the city.
Included in this post is a sampling of murals that can be found in, or close to, the midtown section of Kingston.
Anos de Soledad
The large scale, incredibly vibrant mural titled Anos de Soledad was created by artists Mata Ruda, Nanook and Lunar New Year in 2015 as part of the 6th annual O+ festival in Kingston. According the artist’s (Nanook) website, this front section of the mural is “a portrait of Nina Gualinga, the environmental & indigenous rights activist and Hija del Primer Levantamiento - from a photograph taken by Marc Silver during his documentation of traditional ayahuasca medicine in the Ecuadorian Amazon. It also depicts images of migration, local Kingston natural landscapes . . .” A side section of the mural (seen separately) depicts “an Inca Inti gold piece over #coal and #marble, which were natural resources mined from the area to build cities and capitals. Traditional medicine, modern technology, wellness and health divided by years of solitude.”
Ain’t I a Woman
The midtown mural titled Ain’t I a Woman? was created during the 2015 and 6th annual O+ Festival by artists Jess X. Chen and Chip Thomas. The mural honors the well-known speech by the same name that was delivered by Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), a 19th century abolitionist and women’s rights activist, at the 1851 Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. Sojourner Truth was born into slavery south of Kingston in the village of Swartekill (near today’s Rifton). She gained her freedom in 1827 with New York’s abolition of slavery. Through her faith, lectures, and preaching, Truth would become one of the most vocal and prominent leaders of the national abolition and civil rights movement. In 2014 the Smithsonian Institute named Sojourner Truth one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time.”
The vibrant and imaginative mural known as Fishbone adorns the side of People’s Place in midtown Kingston. The mural was created by Eugene Stetz, Jr. in 2016 as part of the 7th annual O+ festival in Kingston. Stetz is a High Falls resident and artist who works in various mediums such as illustration, sculpture and large-scale murals. For more information about Eugene Stetz visit his website at www.stetzism.com.
This touching midtown mural honors four friends that tragically died in a 2015 car accident in nearby Saugerties. According to newspaper reports, “Meredith McSpirit, the 19-year-old driver of the car, was the only survivor of the crash, in which the vehicle she was driving went down a 110-foot embankment, hit a house and landed on its roof on Dock Street in the village of Saugerties.” (Pineiro-Zucker, Diane. Daily Freeman. www.dailyfreeman.com. August 27, 2015).
Clockwise from the top are Adam (Jeff) McQueen (1993-2015), Kaireem Meeks Jr. (age 24), Dante Crump (1993-2015) and Jonte Clark (1989-2015). Jalani Crooks, artist and Kingston native, painted the mural in honor of his high school friends during the 2015 and 6th annual O+ Festival.
Native Americans Discover Columbus
The midtown mural titled Native Americans Discover Columbus was created during the 2016 and 7th annual O+ Festival by well-known graffiti and mural artist Lady Pink. Her real name is Sandra Fabara and she is popularly known as the “first lady of graffiti.” Starting out in the New York City sub-culture of subway graffiti artist of the early 1980s, she eventually turned to legal art, and now several of her pieces are within the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
The historically focused mural titled Pretty Nose adorns the side of the Keegan Ales building in midtown Kingston. The mural depicts a Native American woman of the Arapaho tribe known as Pretty Nose. The original photo, the basis of the mural, was taken circa 1878 at Fort Keogh, Montana. The mural was created by artist Lmnopi in 2014 as part of the 5th annual O+ festival in Kingston.
The mural titled M’YMCA adorns the YMCA building in the midtown section of Kingston, New York. The mural was created by Woodstock artist Julia Santos Solomon in 2014 as part of the 5th annual O+ festival in Kingston. According to the artist, the M’YMCA project “is an urban initiative to bring the people of Midtown Kingston together to create a portrait of the neighborhood” in order “to celebrate the rich diversity of its residents, its history and heritage.” For more information about the artist visit her website at www.juliasantossolomon.com.
O Wind, Take Me To My Country
The three-story mural titled O Wind, Take Me To My Country was created by artists Jess X. Chen and Jia Sung as part of the 2016 O+ festival in Kingston. The mural depicts Safia Elhillo, a Sudanese-American poet, and contains the following inscription: “In solidarity with our mothers & sisters & bird friends who have been migrating across borders.”
The midtown mural titled SWAK was created during the 2015 and 6th annual O+ Festival by artist and graphic designer Keith Carollo. It is one half of the “SWAK” mural pair, with the other SWAK version being located in the Stockade district of Kingston.
Thunder and Lightning
This catchy street art is located in midtown Kingston, New York. It includes the words “If the thunder don’t get you, the lightning will.”
As the title implies, the mural depicts the Atlantic Sturgeon, a bony, somewhat prehistoric looking fish that is considered to be one of the oldest fish species in the world, perhaps even predating the dinosaurs. The ancient looking fish mural is located at Keegan Ales in midtown Kingston. The mural was created by Will Lytle, artist and owner of Thorneater Comics, during the 2015 and 6th annual O+ Festival.
The midtown Kingston mural known as Justice, appropriately located on the side wall of a legal practice, depicts Lady Justice, the scales of justice and a city skyline. The mural was created during the 2016 and 7th annual O+ Festival by artist George Loizou, the son of the owners of Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
The mural titled Moving Mountains was created by Brooklyn street artist Vince Ballentine in Kingston, New York in conjunction with the 2017 O+ festival. The mural seeks “to honor indigenous heritage and generational wisdom.”
The mural titled Flight Sequence is located on the side of the Anchor bar and restaurant in midtown Kingston, New York. The mural depicts the flight sequence of the barn owl during its nocturnal hunt. The mural was created by Rochester based artist Justin “Mr. PRVRT” Suarez in conjunction with the 2017 and 8th annual O+ festival. For more information about the artist visit his website at www.mrprvrt.com.