For those traversing Riverdale Avenue at the corner of West 261st Street in front of the College of Mount Saint Vincent, there is a new colorful landmark that comes all the way from Canada.
Through a collaboration of the Riverdale Main Streets Alliance, the Sisters of Charity and the college, there is 10-foot by 24-foot mosaic mural made of tiles. The mural, which includes a “Welcome to Riverdale” sign, faces Riverdale Avenue.
“It’s a cross-continent collaboration,” said Giordana Avila, executive board member of the alliance. “It’s done by a company from Canada. We are the first to have such a mural in New York state.”
The artists are Lewis and Paul Lavoie of Canada, she said. They painted 1,950 of the nearly 2,000 tiles with faces and objects depicting the Northeast. Riverdale residents painted the rest of the tiles.
While the merchants group is known more for its annual block party and sidewalk cleanups and sales, Giordana decided it was time to try something different for the community.
“I want to make a public display of art since I moved here,” she said. “For years, I was thinking about doing a mural. With this company, you choose the tile kit and make the mural yourself.”
She chose the Northeast-themed mural, which includes trees in the fall and boats near a body of water. “I asked if could commission them to do such a mural,” Giordana said. “They said they already had a mural I could gift.”
As for where to put the mural, that was a whole other issue.
“We decided to go to the Mount because they are a great asset to the community,” she said. “And since it’s on their private grounds, we didn’t have to worry about permits and zoning issues.”
It also helped that Kevin DeGroat, the vice president for operations at the Mount, sits on the alliance board, Giordana quipped. Susan Burns, president of CSMV, was also instrumental in giving the mural a home, according to Giordana.
But, she also added the college and Sisters of Charity had sponsored last year’s block party as well as the one for this year.
— Gary Larkin