Inspiring artwork to cover blank city space

By Kelly McCarthy

July 31, 2013 Updated Jul 31, 2013 at 10:51 PM EDT

Ithaca, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A 1,500-square-foot wall of concrete is not Alice Muhlback's typical blank canvas.

But like any artist, Muhlback will make it work.

Volunteers in the city of Ithaca are transforming areas of blank space into public art murals as part of an ongoing project to inspire the city.

"To my surprise," Muhlback said, "Almost everyone has had a positive response."

The Mural Street Art Committee is awarding artists a small budget and a blank city space to call their own.

"It seemed like an inexpensive way to get art into the community," said Caleb Thomas, a member of the Public Arts Commission. "That wasn't expensive. We had the canvases with the city's structures itself."

The canvas for these visions isn't ideal. Some include obstructing buildings, uneven surfaces, and at times, an almost impossible reach.

"It's kind of a neat tucked away space," said artist William Schlough, "For people to kind of bump into it and it's a surprising sight."

But the inspirational message within each mural can still be grasped. Artists wants to leave the public with a lasting message.

"Most of the things I do have some kind of emotional connection," Muhlback said. "Even though they're just kind of line, cartoon-y, simple paintings."

A poem called "The Risk to Bloom" by Anaïs Nin, is what inspired Muhlback to make changes to her artwork this year. Now, she's sharing the same message with local residents.

Nearly seven volunteers make up The Public Arts Commission. It's members say they intend to continue this project for years to come.