When the final touches were put on Easton’s new mural last week, it marked the end of a two-year project for Lisa Congdon.
Congdon, the artist behind the mural, was first approached by Greater Easton Development Partnership board member Bill Strickland about the possibility of coming to Easton to paint a mural before the pandemic of COVID-19. But plans for summer 2020 have been put on hold and have been resumed more recently with a whole new emotional meaning.
The mural, officially titled “We Gon Be Alright: A Tribute to Adé Hogue”, adorns the wall on the Church Street side of the Easton Public Market. This is the eighth piece of mural art in the Easton Murals project, a collaboration between GEDP and Brick + Mortar Gallery. It’s also the first step in a planned renovation of the market’s rear entrance, which will be transformed into a small plaza once the city’s North Fourth Street Garage is completed, according to a statement from GEDP.
Adé Hogue was an artist and designer in his own right, as well as a friend to Congdon through their work and shared love of cycling, and during the two-year wait to get to work, Congdon invited Hogue to get involved in the mural project. They would each design a mural to paint over Memorial Day weekend to coincide with the Easton Twilight Criterium, in which Hogue planned to race.
But just days after scheduling a Zoom meeting last October with Strickland, who is also the chief rider of Hearst’s Bicycling magazine, and GEDP executive director Jared Mast, Hogue died after being hit by a car while he was cycling in Chicago, where he lived.
“This is a special mural for us in so many ways, one of which is that we were able to help create the mural with Lisa,” Mast said in a statement. “But this mural also commemorates a cyclist who we had a connection with because he intended to come to Easton to paint a mural alongside Lisa, but was then tragically beaten and killed. I hope this mural will help anchor the place not only with positivity and beauty, but also serve as a place of remembrance and appreciation for Ade’.
When she sat down to draw a design for the mural, Congdon knew the best job she could do was to honor and remember her friend.
“I wanted to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my friend who I loved who died too young,” she said by phone Friday from her home in Portland, Oregon. “I wanted the artwork to somehow reflect his sensibility.”
The “We Gon Be Alright” in the center of the mural comes from Kendrick Lamar’s song “Alright,” but it’s a phrase Hogue picked up and used in his work during the pandemic – once many people had need to remind. Congdon pointed this out in a dedication in the lower left corner so passers-by can learn more about Hogue and experience his work. “I wanted to make sure people understood that I wasn’t trying to make fun of Kendrick Lamar,” she said. “These are words that were important to someone, and they are also an important message for us.”
Congdon obtained permission from Hogue’s family and his foundation, which was established after his death, to use Hogue’s style of lettering for the mural to posthumously incorporate his work, which, according to she gave the impression of a collaboration between her and her late friend. Behind the words are layered bright and bold symbols and images that, for Congdon, echo Hogue’s life. Namely, the bicycle and the bird flying above, as well as the rose, which was his favorite flower.
“These are all homages to him and reflections on him in some way,” she said, “but also symbols that are general and that we all relate to and have a relationship with.”
The overall design for the mural came quite easily to Congdon, who said she normally worked on her work. When she sat down to sketch the mural, it was done in just a few hours. “I feel like in some ways Adé had to guide me,” she said.
Work on the mural itself began on May 26 and ended on a scorching May 30 in which Congdon and the volunteers who helped with the mural worked in 90-degree heat.
The weather might have been a little more of a hindrance, but when it rained on Saturday afternoon, Congdon had planned to take that time anyway to ride the Criterium community bike ride with a group honoring Hogue. , then to look at the list of races in which her friend would have participated.
“Bicycling and art are powerful connectors between people and expressions of life, exuberance and freedom – qualities that Adé also embodied,” Strickland said in the statement. “Having Lisa’s mural in what will be one of Easton’s best public spaces will be a wonderful reminder for all of us to cherish life and each other.”
Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to lehighvalleylive.com.
Connor Lagore can be reached at [email protected].