Cars slowed and drivers leaned out of windows to look at the painters on a scaffold—and at the wall they were painting. So did pedestrians heading around the corner of South Main Street to CVS. Mostly they were smiling, and some called out words of encouragement and appreciation. That’s because the old brick wall is the canvas for Albany’s Madison Avenue mural, a beloved feature of the Pine Hills community that had been fading into invisibility in recent years. Over the weekend more than 50 volunteers took turns working on the mural, perching on scaffolding, climbing ladders, priming donated buckets of paint, and doing so in sweltering heat and humidity that didn’t seem to dampen their enthusiasm by a single degree.
One of the volunteers was Connie Dwyer Heiden, who grew up in Pine Hills and who created the mural, with the help of some school children, in 1977 when she was 26 years old (and an employee of the long-gone-and-lamented City Arts Office). Now a resident of Pennsylvania, Heiden returned to lead the restoration, and by Monday afternoon, the mural’s portrait of a neighborhood was its colorful and charming old self. The effort was sponsored the Beautify Upper Madison Project, a community revitalization group that is also presenting a summer concert series at the nearby Elks Club.