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Yonkers, Artist In Talks Over New Site For Downtown Mural

A Richard Haas mural depicting the Dutch in early Yonkers will vanish when the building it graces, 36 Main St., is torn down. The artist and the city have been in talks about possibly reproducing the artwork. Photo Credit: Contributed
One part of a three-part mural painted in downtown Yonkers by Richard Haas. This part is titled "Nympaneum" and is at 5 Riverdale Ave. Photo Credit: Contributed
The North Wall, part of a three-part mural painted by Richard Haas in downtown Yonkers, is at 35-37 Main St. . Photo Credit: Contributed

YONKERS, N.Y. -- The approaching destruction of a landmarked mural in downtown Yonkers is striking a discordant note with its creator, artist Richard Haas.

The artwork, part of a triptych showing historic scenes and titled “Gateway to the Waterfront,” was painted in the late 1990’s.

The central “panel,” which graces the side of 36 Main St., is the one facing the wrecking ball; the other two are on adjacent and nearby buildings at 35-37 Main St. and 5 Riverdale Ave.

Rising Development, the owners of 36 Main St., recently got the city’s permission to raze the structurally unsound building, Mayor Mike Spano said.

Haas Monday likened the mural’s pending demise to removing the key player from a trio, or musical group.

“You’re going to have the bass and the drums, but no piano,” he said.

Although Haas and the city have been in discussions about finding another site for him to reproduce the mural, nothing has been “cast in stone, or paint on stone,” he said.

It’s important to keep the “ensemble” together and the best possible outcome would be to re-paint the mural near 36 Main St., in front of which sits a small city-owned park, Haas said.

Spano said Friday that the city is taking steps that would allow it to reproduce the mural adjacent to its original location.

“We will not allow the essence of these historic murals to be lost to Yonkers, especially now as our downtown undergoes an artistic, residential and commercial renewal,” Spano said.

The city was “forced to accept that the buildings (36-38 Main Street) are unsafe, and that demolition must proceed,” the mayor said in a statement, adding, “but we are developing a plan to keep the legacy of these murals alive.”

Earlier in August, the city contracted with the Acheson Doyle Architects to undertake an assessment of the options for preserving and/or replicating the mural on 36 Main St.

It also commissioned a high-resolution photograph of the mural “so it could be precisely reproduced,” Spano said.

Possibilities include re-creating the mural on a wall erected on land the city owns adjacent to the existing buildings, or on other nearby buildings.

Spano said he recently met with Haas to “outline the city’s efforts.”

“Yonkers has been extremely fortunate to have Richard Haas as a resident,” said Spano, adding, “He is foremost among the many artists who are bringing about an arts revival in Yonkers.”

The city is “so grateful to have had his murals as part of our downtown for nearly twenty years.”

“While we are disappointed the current building owners have not worked to preserve the original artworks by maintaining the structures, we are hopeful we can create reproductions that will be every bit as inspirational as the originals,” Spano said.

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