Canton mural has lasted 25 years but its days could be numbered | St. Lawrence County


CANTON — Colin Coots is always an artist.

“From the moment they put the crayon in my hand,” he recently said from Leroy’s home.

In Kutz’s view, perhaps the shortest-lived form of art is public mural painting.

“They don’t last long,” he said. “So I haven’t drawn a lot of them.”

Looking at Mr. Coots’ achievements in Canton, he is right.

In the mid 90’s, Mr. Coots painted two murals in downtown Canton. The oldest, painted to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Canton’s birth, adorned the walls of the Gray Lanes bowling alley on the corner of West Main Street and Riverside Drive, where Rushton Place is now located.

When Rushton Place was built, the bowling alley was destroyed, as well as the idyllic life scene of Mr. Coots in the early days of Canton.

The mural painting he painted in 1997 still remains, but its existence is threatened.

The mural next to the abandoned Rite Aid store in Midtown Plaza could succumb to the iron ball if SUNY Canton completes plans to buy the plaza and build an entrepreneurial center there.

Gregory E. Key, Manager of SUNY Canton Media Relations, offered to take an archive photo of the walls before the building was removed.

Prior to his college career, Key was involved in a community mural project in York, Pennsylvania.

“I fully understand and appreciate public art,” he said. “Murals can be an important part of a community’s identity.”

Kie pointed out that students in the graphic and multimedia design program use murals as the background for their photographs, which are on display at the university.

Both murals were commissioned by Canton’s longtime historian Linda A. Cassary.

Mr. Coots, who has traveled the country for a long time to teach art, visited Canton when Mr. Katsley asked him to paint a bowling alley mural.

Mr. Coots clearly remembers the time.

“I used rollers for long poles,” he said, adding that he had a lot of interaction with people passing by that busy part of the main street.

“Do whatever you want,” he remembers a passerby yelling at him. “You can’t hurt the building!”

Coots described the second mural of Martha Ellen, a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times, in 1997.

“It’s a kind of history,” said Mr. Coots. “They are the main characters in the canton.”

According to the article, Katsley sent Coots 35 photos of a familiar person from Canton’s history.

Coots drew and sketched a study of the surviving watercolors in Casserly’s office before putting his work on the building.

At that time, the identities of the 14 figures depicted in the murals were unknown.

The plan held a resident identification contest and eventually identified the portrait by a plexiglass-protected legend in front of Rite Aid.

Reims W. Rudiger of the St. Lawrence County Historical Society said there was a legendary plan, but no plan was made because he was not allowed to install it in the building.

“I don’t know if I had permission to paint the mural,” Katsley said in May, 25 years after it was created.

Shortly after the mural was completed, Rudiger said the Lions club had awarded a $ 500 scholarship. To qualify for the award, the applicant had to propose a community-centric project.

Katsley’s son, Dakota, won a scholarship, studied portraits of murals, and suggested writing a legendary explanation.

But without permission to mount the legend, it was never built, and Casserly isn’t sure where the Dakota project is.

Mr. Coots is now 77 years old and is still an active painter.

“Artists never stop,” he said.

He mainly draws horses, before the pandemic races in Saratoga every summer.

“I grew up on a farm. I had horses and ponies,” he said. “I then learned to draw really fast.”

The murals have a remarkable shape at that time, and while the shopping center was once my shell, the murals are still in a very busy place. Hundreds of people walk past each day from parking lots to canton-free libraries, post offices, community banks, Jreck Subs and other downtown destinations.

Today, people walking by the mural see most of what the 1997 passers-by saw. The collection of 19th century portraits and scenes is partially hidden by a row of parked cars.

In Martha Ellen’s story, she explained some of Mr. Coots’ procedures.

“While he was working, Mr. Coots walked from the mural to the drive-up window of the community bank and behind the post office, studying various vantage points,” she writes. “He wants the boat at one end of the mural to draw attention to the interior of the painting. At the other end, the big head is intended to do the same, Coots said. Trees are placed throughout the mural as a directional signal that the viewer is trying to see. “

“This is the sharpest shot I’ve had,” he told Martha Ellen, waving at an empty spot in a row of parked cars, usually in front of the mural. ..

The car is still there.

Editor’s Note: You may be wondering why you didn’t name the person in the mural. We want to give you a chance. Look at the pictures here. Better yet, go past the mural and see if you can understand it. The name will be revealed in the June 10th edition of The Plain Dealer.

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