A comment by Police Chief Joseph Sinagra that he would hope to see graffiti artists working with the town to display their art prompted teen artist Adrian Hirsch to ask about displaying some of his graffiti art on a town structure.
Hirsch studied with artist Ze’ev Willy Neumann, and said he asked for advice and help with meeting and working with the police chief. Neumann also helped him adapt his sketch to a full-size mural on the wall. The two of them met with Sinagra to discuss a possible site for a mural. “My main strengths are graffiti and street wheat [posters that are pasted to walls with flour-based glue],” said Hirsch. “I have been looking for a wall where I could put up my work.”
When Hirsch saw an article about the cleanup of a wall under the bridge over the Esopus near the village beach, he knew he would be interested in finding a place to produce a mural legally, he said.
“I put together a portfolio of ideas; the lighthouse, the town as a whole, and other ideas and brought it to the chief. I asked Willy to come along and help me.”
Neumann described the work as a collaboration between the two of them. He said he was somewhat taken aback when he received emails from Hirsch’s parents expressing anger that his name appeared at the top of the attribution on the mural. That has since been changed, and Hirsch’s name appears above Neumann’s. Neumann described Adrian’s relationship to him as an apprenticeship.
“We have had differences about how this should be done; that’s natural with artists who work in different media collaborating,” Hirsch said. “Willy was a great help, but this was my design.”
When they met with Sinagra, the chief advised them that he would like to see a memorial to the victims of the World Trade Center attack. “I was very young when it happened, and I didn’t have many memories of it,” Hirsch said. “I did a ton of research. I had a tour of the Freedom Tower.”
“It is really a beautiful work of art, and a memorial not just to the firefighters, police and emergency medical workers but to the civilian victims,” said Sinagra. “It is also a reminder to my officers to be aware of these incidents every day when they go out. I am proud of it and I’m proud of Adrian and Willy.”