The Market Street Rail Bridge in Moscow is undergoing a unique metamorphosis thanks to artist Cat Badger and the Lackawanna County Department of Arts and Culture.

The Market Street Rail Bridge in Moscow is undergoing a unique metamorphosis thanks to artist Cat Badger and the Lackawanna County Department of Arts and Culture.
This past summer, the county sponsored a contest seeking artists willing to transform the appearance of the Market Street Bridge and a bridge in Jessup through murals reflecting the unique character of each of the towns.
Cat, an experienced artist from Luzerne County, submitted the winning design and garnered the $9000 award, which covers the cost of materials, equipment, and labor used to implement the project.
Cat grew up in Dushore in Sullivan County, but now resides in Dallas with her husband, Todd.
She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, then gained hands-on experience through her work with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, the Bradford County Regional Arts Council, and at In Depth Inc and Philadelphia Sound Stages, where she worked on set and exhibit fabrication, mural and scenic painting, and a variety of related endeavors.
Cat is currently the owner of CB Scenic Studios, a specialty studio offering complete scenic and mural painting as well as small to medium scale fabrication services for the museum, commercial, and entertainment industries.
With several years of both formal instruction and practical experience behind her, Cat had the confidence to approach the Market Street Bridge project with a unique blend of tradition and innovation.
Stylistically, the mural at first glance appears deceptively uncomplicated, with bold sweeps of color and widely differing scales and perspectives lending an appealing and eminently approachable feel to the artwork.
However, a closer look reveals an iconography that skillfully addresses the geographic, economic, social, and cultural past and present of the borough.
“We were told that the borough wanted something that depicted the essence of Moscow, so I researched the history of Moscow, the landmarks, the things that were important to people who live here.  There was an information session, which the mayor attended, where we were given more specifics about what they wanted to see, like Tree City USA, the borough clock, and the four seasons,” offered Cat.
Starting with a different season on each of the four large wing walls of the bridge, Cat composed scenes comprised of images representing the both the concrete and the intangible aspects of life in the Borough of Moscow.
The project is a work in progress, but when it is completed in a week or two, the murals will feature depictions of familiar local landmarks including the Moscow Cemetery, Ferri’s Pizza, the post office, the schools, the fire station, two churches, and other buildings in the borough.
Moscow’s rail history will be represented by a large steam locomotive and the train station, and the logging industry with a saw mill.
A bird’s-eye map of the borough will appear on another wall, along with the borough Christmas tree, the Tree City USA sign, and a tiny representation of a coal mine.
A man and woman harvesting produce are a nod to the importance of farming in the region, while the flags of Italy, Ireland, Poland, and Germany represent the early immigrants to the area.
A large American flag is included to reflect the patriotism and military sacrifices of borough residents.
The connecting wall above the roadways on the east side will depict the change of seasons, while the corresponding mural on the west side is based on a nineteenth century drawing of the region that the artist came across online.
The use of traditional and familiar motifs within the mural design is a contrast to the unusual process used to create the art.  Using a technique she learned while working with the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia enabled Cat to work on the project with a minimal amount of disruption to the traffic passing under the bridge.
She explained, “This is a very busy intersection.  There is traffic through here all day.  A lot of traffic!  The borough police officers have helped us by directing traffic when necessary, but that’s inconvenient for drivers and a burden for them because they have only limited time to devote to traffic control.”
“Most of the painting is being done in the studio.  We paint on a type of heavy cloth, a non-woven thin synthetic, then paste it to the wall,” she continued.
The cloth feels like an extremely thick, durable paper.  Five-foot-square panels are painted, allowed to dry, then rolled up and transported to the site. A thick, white gel adhesive is applied to the wall with paint rollers, the painted cloth is placed on top of it, and the wrinkles are smoothed out. This forces the adhesive into the tiny crevices and irregularities of the wall surface, and causes excess adhesive to ooze out from under the edges of the painted cloth where it can be wiped away.
“The panels are pretty much superglued to the wall.  The gel shrinks when it dries and sucks itself into the wall, so you can see the texture of the wall itself,” said Cat.
Once the adhesive dries, the painted cloth is permanently affixed to the wall so tightly and completely that only the nearly invisible seams at the edges of the panels offer any clue as to how the mural differs from one painted using more traditional methods.
According to the artist, murals created using this process are just as long-lived and durable as those painted directly on the wall surface itself.
Once all of the panels are affixed to the wall, some additional painting will be done to fill in around the edges of the panels.  Touch-ups will also be done in a few spots where the cloth panels had to be cut to accommodate rough or projecting portions of the concrete.
Helping Cat accomplish her work on the bridge are her mother, Pamela Badger, as well as some assistants who help her paint the panels in the studio.
In addition to showing appreciation to those helping her produce the mural, Cat expressed thanks to borough police for their help with traffic control, to the Lackawanna County commissioners and the Arts Council for their sponsorship of this and other cultural projects and for their ongoing assistance, to the borough council and mayor Daniel Edwards for their help and support, and to Jason Toy, owner of the Moscow Agway “for letting us store our lift, park in his parking lot, store our materials here, and use his water and bathroom.”
Although the mural is not yet complete, borough residents are already showing their appreciation for it.
On a chilly morning last week, as Cat and her mother applied new painted panels to one of the walls, a woman stopped at the traffic light, opened her car window, and said, “Hey girls! I’m a retired art teacher, and you’re doing a great job with this mural.”A few minutes later, another woman called out from her car, “It looks great!  Great job!”
Indeed, it does look great, even in its unfinished state, and it will look even better upon completion, as it graces the walls of the Market Street Bridge for years to come.