There was a time when street art was considered a sign of societal rot and moral decline. Governments dedicated staff to searching out and erasing unwanted murals and tags. Artists covered in masks and shrouds approached their work like thieves in the night.

Yes, many local governments still treat street art in this fashion, but that attitude is beginning to change. Perhaps the biggest local indicator of this is the Capital Walls mural project, which has enabled over a dozen artists to conceptualize and create murals across downtown Albany. Albany Center Gallery, Albany Barn and the Albany Parking Authority have overseen the project and are looking to expand into other cities.

Map of Capital Walls murals by Cara Hanley

The murals have drawn visitors to Parking Authority properties in downtown Albany that they would likely never have visited. Meanwhile, artists like Samson Contompasis, Chip Fasciana and Scout continue to win acclaim for their work — government-sanctioned and not.

Artist Samson Contompasis adds figures to his portrait of Henry Johnson, on Henry Johnson Blvd, Albany.

We hope to see more of these larger art projects across the Capital Region in the coming months–especially in areas where more people can appreciate them on a regular basis.