Henry Street is now a little more colorful thanks to the efforts of four artists and the city of Binghamton.
Two concrete planters and broken, rusted benches are now two colorful tile mosaic planters. The planters, publicly unveiled on July 31 between Henry and State Streets, were created by four local artists after the city of Binghamton approved their proposal from a pool of varying project ideas.
The artists — Emily Jablon, Sam Jablon, Chris Long and Jared Raphel — learned in early June that they had been picked to receive a grant from the city to design the “Henry Street Revival Project” as part of a larger effort to develop the area and beautify Binghamton.
The artists received a $10,000 grant to complete the project, from which each artist received $500 compensation.
“It’s not about a money. It’s that it is there forever. There’s a plaque with our names on it, worth more than the compensation fee,” Emily Jablon said.
In the last four years, the city has set aside $50,000 of a $2 million annual Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for improving the appearance of its neighborhoods.
“Public art beautifies our neighborhoods and commercial corridors, and unites our community around our history, traditions and deepest values,” Ryan said in a statement. “Working with our partners, from our assemblywoman to neighborhood leaders, we’re supporting the transformation of underutilized park spaces and vacant lots into beautiful play spaces, public art installations that celebrate our local character, and community murals on walls, in our parks and even on our streets.”
The statement from the mayor’s office also quoted Emily Jablon as saying that she and her family were very pleased with the completed project.
“With the combined efforts of Susan Jablon Mosaics, the city and a few dedicated artists, a neglected space has been transformed into something beautiful, permanent and to be enjoyed by all,” she said.
Sam Jablon, Emily’s brother, said he hoped the artwork will deliver a positive message to the community.
“We hope that it inspires people to take action and improve their lives and surroundings,” he said.
Emily and Sam were supported in this project by Susan Jablon Mosaics, the mosaic tile design company operated by their mother. Susan Jablon Mosaics was paid for tile used to complete the project, but the labor required to mix the tiles was done for free. Emily Jablon, who now works for her mother’s company, creates designs for the family business.
Susan Jablon said she feels an obligation to contribute to the community through art.
“We’re very proactive as a business in helping beautify and energize Binghamton,” she said.
Sam Jablon, who was raised in Binghamton, said he also found it gratifying to give back to his hometown.
“I’ve moved to Brooklyn, N.Y. for grad school, so I find this to be a great way to come back to my home city and offer something positive to the community,” he said. “Binghamton is a really old city that is filled with small areas that are just waiting to be renovated. I think this area is proof of that.”