Roc Paint 2018: Welcome to Season Three.

We are so excited to share that the third season of Roc Paint Division is officially underway!  We’re one week in and are having a great time getting to know our new crew of ELEVEN youth artists- three more than last year!  They’ll begin introducing themselves here in the next few weeks, but for now, here’s a look at how we are starting off the program this season.


Juts like last year, our first painting project will focus on refreshing the walls in our headquarters at Marketview Lodge, giving us a chance to learn basic painting skills and techniques before moving onto more elaborate murals. On day 1, the group was tasked with working together to choose the colors- given free range over the color wheel, with the only stipulation being that there had to be a clear group consensus in order to move forward.


Our first featured guest of the year was the mythical and multitalented Erich Lehman, co-founder of Wall Therapy  and founder of gallery 1975. He shared the story of his journey from a young skateboarder and t-shirt collector to his present-day multifaceted roles in Rochester’s art community.

We also gave the floor to our two seasoned Roc Paint veterans, Mei and Nzinga, so they could share their experience working as muralists in Wall Therapy this summer. We are thrilled to have two returning team members and are so excited to see them take on leadership roles within the group this year.


One exciting change this year: after two seasons creating beautiful the theme of Growth for our murals, we decided: its time to switch it up. We spent the second half of Thursday discussing and brainstorming potential themes for this year, and by the end of the evening had narrowed it down to four finalists: Dream and Imagination, Culture and Representation, Love, and Transition. The youth artists spent some unstructured time thinking about and sharing potential concepts for each, and we plan on finalizing our decision this week.


We also handed out sketchbooks to the crew and they got started on personalizing them……It will be fun to see them fill up over the next 19 weeks.

We have lots of exciting things coming up in the next few weeks- stay tuned!


NOW HIRING for Roc Paint 2018

NOW HIRING: Youth Artists for the third edition of Roc Paint Division, 2017-2018 


The City of Rochester’s Department of Recreation presents the third season of Roc Paint Division! Do you love to draw, sketch, or paint? Do you want to learn about public art and how it can improve your community? Have you always wanted to paint a mural…. and earn money while doing it?

If this sounds like you, you may be qualified to join us and become a member of the 2017-2018 Roc Paint Division team!

Job Description:

  • The position begins in December and runs through May.
  • Work will be approximately 10 hours / week  (2-3 days after school)
  • Pay rate: $9.75/hour.
  • You will work with local artists to learn how to conceptualize, design, and paint murals.
  • With a team, you will create murals to beautify City R-Centers.
  • You will get to explore the city and see the different public art it has to offer

To qualify, you must be:

  • Between the ages of 16 and 19
  • A resident of the City of Rochester
  • Currently enrolled in high school
  • Interested in visual art


  • Fill out the attached application   and submit it along with a cover letter clearly explaining your interest and qualifications for this project.
  • Email the application and cover letter to the Northwest Area Coordinator, Kendra Hayle, at, OR drop them off at the City office at 400 Dewey Avenue, marked “attn Kendra Hayle”.

DEADLINE TO APPLY: Friday, November 3, 2017.  

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Friday November 10th by 5pm. 

Email with any questions!

Roc Paint Division x Wall Therapy 2017


We are so proud of the team of young women who represented Roc Paint Division at Wall Therapy this past summer. Etana Browne, Nzinga Muhammad, and Mei Stephens created a ground-breaking mural at the Flying Squirrel Community Space. We’re grateful for the many opportunities that this project created for these ladies to have their powerful voices lifted within this community, and hope that their fierce vision and thoughtful words will serve as inspiration for the next generation of artists, activists, and change-makers.




Wall Therapy x Roc Paint Division!

We couldn’t be prouder to share that three of our 2017 alumni will be representing Roc Paint Division at Wall Therapy this year!


Back in May, the organizers of Wall Therapy approached us about having a crew of our youth artists hold their own as muralists in this year’s event.  With the theme of “Arts and Activism,” it felt like a great fit right from the beginning.

The youth artists chosen to represent Roc Paint Division this year are high school graduate Etana Browne, senior Nzinga Muhammad, and senior Kaori-Mei Stephens. All 17 years old, these ladies are officially the youngest artists ever to be included on the Wall Therapy roster. (Check out the full list of artists here) 


Starting Monday July 24, this team of young women will be painting a mural at the Flying Squirrel Community Space, located on Clarissa Street in the Corn Hill neighborhood. Our program staff Brittany, Justin, and Lisa will be assisting them as needed, but this mural is 100% their voices, their work, their own. We are thrilled to support this crew in this extraordinary opportunity! Their concept and sketch are, to say the least radical and impressive –  check back this week for more details as their progress unfolds. 🙂


If that wasn’t cool enough, Nzinga, Mei, Etana, Brittany, and Lisa will also be speaking on a panel at  Arts and Activism- the First Annual Wall Therapy Conference on Saturday, July 29th. Their panel, entitled “Education and Empowerment: Enabling the Voice of the next Generation” , will highlight their experiences within the Roc Paint Division program and beyond.

We’re stoked! Stay tuned this week and make sure to follow @walltherapyny and @rocpaintdivision on social media to see our progress!

Final 2017 Roc Paint mural recap :


“Radiant Children”: Panel Series for Humboldt R-Center  (Installed photos coming soon)

finalpanels -1finalpanels -2finalpanels -3


Panels installed at Ave D R-Center (led by guest artist Nate Hodge):  finals-1finals-2

Flint Street R-Center, led by guest artist Rachel Farley- Before and After: 



Thomas P Ryan Center, led by guest artist Ryan Smith, Before and After: RyanBeforeRyanFinal


Frederick Douglass R-Center, led by guest artist Sarah Rutherford,  before & After: SOuthBeforeSouthFinaljpg

Painting at the Flint St R-Center


This week our team completed our third and final on-site mural of the year- our mural at the Flint Street R-Center.  This was not only our largest mural in our program’s history, but also the one we’ve completed the quickest….somehow! Our first outdoor mural of the year, we dealt with all the elements: first an almost 90 degree day working in the sun, followed by a day where the temperature didn’t get above 45 degrees and gusts of wind ripped our reference photos from the walls. Those factors, combined with the unusual texture of this wall that made painting more challenging than usual, through several challenges our way, but the team persevered and overall, loved the experience of painting outdoors for a change.



This beautiful mural was conceptualized and designed by guest lead artist Rachel Farley. Rachel worked with a group of our youth last year painting the electrical box at the Roxie Ann Sinkler R-Center, and we were thrilled to have her back leading the whole team. Her mural this year hits the theme of growth head-on, featuring the life cycle of a bee as well as of the ubiquitous dandelion. Rachel, an avid gardener and lover of all growing things, says that the concept for the mural came to her in a dream. The end result feels indeed like a dream come true, bringing light and hope to the Flint Street R-Center, the kids of School 19 who walk by it multiple times a day, and the neighborhood at large.


The model for the portrait part of the mural was a little boy named Josiah that we met during our last mural at the Frederick Douglass R-Center, who loved watching our artists at work. Our youth artist Marina took the reference photo for it during our last day painting there, and we hope he is able to come and see how it turned out soon. This is a new tradition of featuring the children we meet while painting was  started in the mural we painted at the Douglass Center- the two little boys featured in the camera lens there were two of the most enthusiastic participants we had met last year while painting at Campbell Street (and they loved taking pictures whenever they got the chance.)


We also enjoyed the collaborative spirit of this mural- each of our lead artists had a section that they focused on in leading the youth, based on their own style and repertoire.  Rachel led the bees and the honeycomb section, Justin led the flowers, and Brittany led the portrait.


Read on as youth artist Kaori-Mei Stephens, who as it turns out was a complete natural with a can of spray paint, gives us her take on painting Roc Paint Division’s largest mural in history.


When I first saw the wall that we’d be painting at Flint, I thought it would definitely take a while to finish. However, it was very beautiful and had different pieces to it which I liked a lot. It was extremely satisfying to finish the largest mural in Roc Paint Division history in basically two days. I absolutely thought it would take longer.

My favorite parts of the mural were the boy blowing the dandelion and the flower’s life cycle. Most of what I worked on required spray paint. I have never really spray painted before, and at first I didn’t like it. But as I began using it more, I realized that spray paint is great for shadows in the leaves and dandelions.

It was challenging working outside. Inside the weather does not affect us, but outside the wind can make it hard to spray paint and the cold can make it difficult to do our best work. Having said that, it was great to have more space, fresh air, and room to back up and view the piece in its entirety.

Overall I enjoyed the process of painting at Flint Street. It was especially collaborative in the sense that three different artists headed the three different pieces of the mural. It was awesome because I got a chance to work on each of the parts. The most challenging part was figuring out how to paint the dandelion to look realistic and ‘fuzzy’ because I didn’t have much guidance on how to go about it.

I hope the children at the center will like to see the life cycle of the flower. (It is quite beautiful!) Also, I hope that the entire community will appreciate that the portrait is of a young African American boy. The media today almost everywhere is very whitewashed, and it’s important for the children to see people who look like them in a positive light.


We completed the mural so early in the day this Tuesday that we had the chance to do several addition projects!

First, we added some life to the retaining walls across from the mural, which gave our youth artists the chance to continue learning and experimenting with spray paint…..


We also sent a few of them up to the Gandhi Institute, where our friends at Seedfolk City Farm work (just a minute’s walk from Flint),  to beautify their greenhouse a bit. Fun fact- our youth artist Marina also worked for Seedfolk, and she helped build this greenhouse! She was pretty excited to add some color to it today.


And we finished the mural that Rachel led at the Sinkler Center last year by finally adding a quote to it.


Overall its been a great last week already, and we still have one more workday and our closing party left! Check back soon for more on that!

A few more images from Flint:



the kids of the Frederick Douglass Center

One of the highlights of painting at the Frederick Douglass R-Center was the tangible excitement of its children as they watched their walls come alive. The youth at the R-Centers are in many ways the reason why we do what we do. Seeing the way the little ones looked up to our teenage artists made our hearts melt and was a great reminder of the importance of setting a strong example and modeling this kind of positivity.



The most frequently asked question by the little ones, everywhere we go… “CAN I PAINT?!” While its not realistic to let our little friends help with the murals on the walls, we like to let them express their creativity and be involved in the process. For the South Ave murals, we gave the kids cut out cameras to correspond with the ones we painted on the walls and asked them to draw or paint something that is important to them in the lens. These now hang alongside our murals in the Rec Center’s halls.


And occasionally, with some instruction and supervision, our youth coordinator Lisa allowed them to use her camera (very carefully) to document the process from their own perspective.


We are so happy to be able to leave this mural there as a tool for inspiration and education for children young and old, and were beyond honored to receive this feedback from one of the teachers at School 12, which shares space with the Rec Center: “When I walked my 21 Kinders to PE on Monday, we all (myself included) just gasped. It was such a magical moment to be embraced by such beauty. After PE we spent about 15 minutes (a long time for 5 year olds) looking in awe at the details. Later in the week, when we walked by, someone yelled “Both sides have something to write with!” I predict that every time we walk by they will observe a new detail. I know this was created for the Rec Center, but I feel incredibly fortunate that my students can experience this piece every day. Thank you, so much!”

This perfectly encapsulates why we do what we do! 🙂 We are grateful to have the opportunity to provide them with a source of beauty and look forward to creating many more inspiring scenes for Rochester’s kids over the years.