Event celebrates 'park art'

David Ward, 4, painted what he saw.

Ward looked in the direction of three boys playing basketball on the court of Hamilton Hill's Jerry Burrell Park, and dabbed his brush into the red paint on a small palette held by his grandmother, Yolanda Ward, who called herself his assistant.

David swirled the paint into a circle.

"They're basketballs," said David, who also drew figures of the boys jumping and running, adding details to his scene.

Ward is one of the nearly 75 community members who participated in the second "Visions on the Hill: A Community Paints" event, aimed at bringing artists of all skill levels and ages together to paint a series of scenes of the park. Artists set up their easels all over the Hamilton Hill neighborhood park, capturing its patrons and landscape with their paintbrushes.

The two-day event ran Friday, July 18, and Saturday, July 19, and was sponsored by the New York State Council on the Arts with assistance from the AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteers program.

The event was created last year and is sponsored locally by the Hamilton Hill Arts Center and the Stanford and Albany Street United Methodist Churches.

The Rev. David Heise, of Albany Street United Methodist Church, said he hopes the event will be revived again next year to continue promoting the arts in one of Schenectady's toughest neighborhoods.

"The program's intent is to get the kids to do something that's a positive," said Heise. "They see so much that's not a positive."

Heise said that last year's program was a success and led to the creation of a new program called the Seniors Painting Workshop. Held on Tuesdays, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Hamilton Hill Arts Center, the workshop is specifically for artists ages 60 years and older.

Some of their work was featured in an exhibit titled "Six Over Sixty," and can be seen at The Mossey Group, an advertising agency in downtown Schenectady.

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