Colorful Climbing Community

The Inner Wall, New Paltz’s indoor rock climbing facility, has recently undergone a colorful face lift.

Over the summer, local artist Wendy Toman painted a mural inside the gym featuring a bright color scheme, images of climbers and a representation of the Shawangunk Mountains commonly known as “The Gunks.”

Toman, who moved to New Paltz in April 2012, said she came up with the idea for the mural when she went to the gym with her children to climb and noticed the interior’s lack of color.

“It just looked like a blank canvas,” she said. “The walls were all tan, all one color.”

Glen McBride, owner of The Inner Wall, said Toman contacted him about working together. McBride said she came up with some ideas and sketches that he loved.

“We were looking to do a makeover anyway and she kind of led the way,” he said. “She gave us the color palette, the idea and gave the staff and myself direction.”

Toman said her goal was to make the gym more aesthetically pleasing and family-friendly and not too masculine.

“I wanted it to be appealing to females as well as males,” she said. “I asked if it was okay if we put pink and purple on the walls, and [Glen] said, ‘Yeah, it’s New Paltz, it’s fine.’ Also, I wanted to make it very kid friendly. Kids like bright colors so the kid wall is kind of a rainbow.”

With the cold weather rolling in, climbers who spent all summer outdoors have started to return to the gym, and McBride said the “response has been incredible.”

“A lot of our regulars come in during the winter season and then we don’t see them again all summer, so a lot of them have come back recently…and are just amazed at the changes,” he said.

Toman said she was “nicely surprised” when she started to hear the reactions from college students who had been away from the gym since the spring semester and saw the transformation.

Fourth-year printmaking BFA Sebastian Bauer said the mural changed the gym’s interior space by creating a more unique experience for customers.

“I think that the mural serves the purpose of brightening up the space as well as creating more of a climbing atmosphere,” Bauer said. “It helps mask the fact that you are climbing plastic holds on a wooden wall. It serves as a graphic reminder that indoor climbing is, in fact, linked to outdoor climbing.”

The mural process, which started in June and took all summer to complete, was a “huge effort,” but he’s thrilled with the result, McBride said.

“To me, it just ties everything together now,” he said. “It brings everything into fruition that we envisioned when we took over the gym, because it just creates an atmosphere of fun and enjoyment.”