December 1, 2021

Artist at work on agriculture mural on Main Street in Cortland

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Nico Cathcart paints a pickle jar Wednesday on the side of 181 1/2 Main St. in Cortland. Cathcart is painting a mural celebrating Cortland’s agricultural history.

The sky was gray. The wall under Nico Cathcart’s brush burst Wednesday with blue, red and green — a cornucopia of agricultural colors.

Cathcart, a mural artist who grew up in Homer but has since moved to Richmond, Virginia, will be painting the facade of 181 1/2 Main St. for the next few weeks as part of the Cortland Mural Project.

The project, funded through a donations campaign that raised $10,000, will have Cathcart paint a mural that highlights Cortland’s agricultural history, according to a news release from Laura Gallup, the marketing coordinator for Main Street Farms, Head and Heal and New York Hemp Oil.

The building Cathcart is painting on is used by Main Street Farms, Food and Ferments and Catalpa Flower Farm.

Flowers, produce and fermented items — like pickles — will be included in the mural, Cathcart said as she started on the pickle jar’s lid.

Preparation work began last week as Cathcart collected items that are featured in the mural and photographed them as still life images. Painting began Monday.

“The hard part’s actually done,” she said, planning and preparing. “Now I’m just plugging away.”

Cathcart said that while she has done many murals across the country, she hasn’t done one this big around Cortland. She’s looking to have the mural finished by the end of June, weather permitting.

More so, she hopes the mural can send the message of sustainability and supporting local food producers.

And she hopes painting a large mural like this can bring culture to the community.

Murals are “hard to get them up but once they’re there, they become a cultural touchstone of the neighborhood,” Cathcart said. “And I think it’s a wonderful way to bring art to the people.”