GratiTuesday: Those who make our world more beautiful

Tens of thousands of people probably had passed by the large concrete walls at the entrance of North Creek, NY over the years, and never thought anything about them one way or the other. They just… were.

Artist Kate Hartley saw a blank canvas.


In 2011 Kate requested and gained permission to decorate the walls with a mosaic mural depicting the natural wonders and recreational offerings of this small town in the Adirondack Mountains. Since its beginning, the North Creek Mosaic Project has relied on the enthusiastic support of local businesses and organizations, as well as nearly 900 volunteers of all ages.


The mural was just steps from the North Creek Airbnb where my husband and I were staying and we happen to walk by one day that the artist was working. From the moment we began our conversation with her, it would be hard not to get swept up in her positive aura. She was delighted to talk to us about the project and even took the time to tell us the story behind a few of the vignettes. She remains as passionate about the mural as she was when she started and especially enjoys teaching kids how to work with mosaics. And, of course, the kids love to see their artistic endeavors displayed as part of the mural.


The mural is about 2/3rds complete (these are really big walls), but progress is being made just about every day. It is slow-going and, at times, back-stressing work, but, for Kate Hartley and her volunteers, it is truly a labor of love.

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I am so grateful for the Kate Hartleys of this world. They have been blessed with a creative gift and we are lucky that they have chosen to share it with the rest of us. Their generosity lifts us all up and brightens our lives.

Author: Janis @

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

31 thoughts on “GratiTuesday: Those who make our world more beautiful”

    1. I love how she not only is realizing her vision, but she’s getting the community involved. People just show up and start working. If we had more time there, I’m sure we would have put a few tiles up too.

  1. I’m really fascinated by the artistry and vision that goes into the creation of a mosaic. A mosaic on the scale of this one featured is simply awe-inspiring!

    1. I’ve always been interested in mosaic and (when I’m healed) I have just the spot for a piece of art. Doing something as large as this project would have overwhelmed me… not her! I loved how she combined materials: not only tile, but shells, rocks and found objects.

  2. It’s amazing, the little (or big) things we can miss in our busy lives. Like local murals. Thank you for sharing that. Beautiful murals, and such a nice back story to them! Denise

  3. Thanks, Janis for this very inspiring post about a very inspiring artist. After reading your blog, I was motivated to find out even more. I Googled “Kate Hartley” and came across her North Creek Mosaic Project Facebook Page ( It is filled with additional pictures, videos and other snippets of cool information. Thank you for introducing us all to Kate and this incredible project!

    1. Absolutely! I love how Kate has been able to bring people and organizations together on this project. The people who live in North Creek are very proud of their community, and this mural helps them highlight the specialness of the area.

  4. I’m always into anything that builds a sense of community and if it’s artistic, all the better! Check out the western version of this: google Silver City, NM murals…they involve the schools in yearly projects, too.

  5. You are meeting the most interesting people, Janis! And, I love and appreciate your GratiTuesday posts. Here’s to all the Kate Hartleys in this world, especially the artistic, caring and creative ones!! 🙂

  6. When I first glanced I thought it was the wall at The Land in Epcot – one of my favorite places. I’ve always liked mosaic since I made a dish when I was in Brownies early 1960’s. This woman is inspiring – it makes me want to make my world a little more beautiful too. Thank you for sharing her and her art with us.

    1. I’ve never been to Epcot… I’ll have to see if I can find the wall online. I know what you mean about wanting to make your world more beautiful – I think Kate would be thrilled to know that her project is inspiring creativity in others!

  7. I too love public art, and especially large works like the one you saw Kate making. In the town where I’m currently staying, a local man organized and carried out a huge mural project that eventually included over 100 murals painted by local artists and by some who traveled many miles to participate. The murals depict the town’s history back to the time before white settlement. A few local Ojibwe artists contributed their work to the project. In Mexico and other places I’ve traveled, I’ve seen giant murals that celebrate certain events or cultural practices. I think they are wonderful to see and help young people appreciate their living place.

    Dr Rin Porter

    1. That mural project sounds beautiful! Murals are an impactful way to show historical events and to make a very public statement. I really love them and very much appreciate the talent and work that goes in to creating them.

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