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Boarded up windows turned into art

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The windows on the upper floors of 39 North Main St. have been boarded up for years.

On Monday, the windows were turned into art. Adam Johnson, owner of the building, installed 16 of the painted boards that are 8 ½ feet high. The boards were painted by local high school art students, except for one. The window in the top right was painted by Jasmine Almeter of Holley, a former Johnson employee.

His daughter Corinne Johnson painted the two to the left of Almeter’s on the third floor. Corinne, 16, is a junior at Holley Junior-Senior High School.

Albion students painted all eight on the second floor. Lyndonville students did the top three on the left, and Kendall students did the two in the middle on the third floor.

This painting depicts Grace Bedell, the Albion girl who wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln, encouraging him to a grow a beard in his first presidential race. Lincoln took her advice.

The Albion students tried to use historic and community themes in the paintings.

These windows highlight the former Santa Claus School in Albion and the current Strawberry Festival, a two-day event the second Friday and Saturday in June.

These windows highlight the Pratt Opera House, the Erie Canal and the historic Mount Albion Cemetery.

Johnson delivered the boards to Albion, Holley, Kendall and Lyndonville schools in early fall. He left the artwork up to the students and teachers.

He saw similar efforts in the cities of Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse, where art helped rejuvenate older buildings.

Johnson is working to turn the first floor of the building into a restaurant, with a goal to have it open by the Strawberry Festival in June. He was going to partner with J.J. Heideman, owner of BAD-Ash-BBQ, on the project, but the two decided against the effort. Heideman continues to run BAD-Ash from a trailer and attends many community events and parties.

Johnson said he has a different concept for the restaurant. In the meantime, he is pleased with the effort by the art students with the windows.