The Tompkins Chamber has recognized Caleb Thomas as Community Hero of the Month.
As a member of the City of Ithaca’s Public Art Commission, Caleb Thomas spearheaded a contest that led to the creation of the Underground Railroad mural on Green Street. That effort led to an explosion of public art coming to downtown Ithaca.
Ithaca Murals, organized by Thomas, has taken up the mantle for public art projects, and the city continues to add to its murals collection. In 2009, there were about 15 murals in Ithaca, now there are over 200 with plans for more to come.
Thomas is quick to say he is not the director of Ithaca Murals, but an assistant to the artists who create the art, helping them deal with the paperwork and permissions that are needed. He also noted that each project is a small success that builds upon each other to create a big impact, and that it’s important for people to see that small successes can add up to a big impact.
“Watching the transformation and team building, and the movement the murals have created,” says Thomas. “It’s very meaningful to me, the support everyday Ithacans have to recreate our cityscape, and passersby get to see murals created by indigenous artists, Asian artists, Muslim artists, Black artists.”
There are also mural projects planned for several of Ithaca’s elementary schools, and Thomas sees a future of murals on residential homes as well. He said there are currently 16 murals on homes around the city already and thinks that will catch on more and more.
In addition to more public art, an Ithaca Murals app is under development that Thomas said will provide a map of where the murals are located, information about the art, as well as the potential gamification of the experience.
Ithaca Murals pay artists a stipend for their time, as well as for supplies needed to create the art beautifying our community. Funding for that and the support of Ithaca Murals efforts comes through donations. Find more information about ways to donate here.
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