Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mural Goes up in Huntington for Vets & Leonard R. Totora Jr.

This is just a small portion of a series of murals that are being painted, refined, and repainted at the former Exxon - Mobil gas station in Huntington, Long Island, NY,  located on 26A & Park Avenue.
Erich Preis, a local muralist and friend of the late Lenny Tortura Jr., was approached by Dominic Mavellia, the property owner, to enhance the exterior.
 Jane Spalholz, a friend of Erich's, and a presidential portrait painter took on the job of rendering George Washington and his horse.
I wandered over to the gas station to see what Erich was doing, during March, and asked if I could help out since I live in the neighborhood.
Mural painting was not something that I was comfortable with so I asked if I could work on the background figures and trees.
I painted a group on the right side of the large  "Lenny Parade" mural.  Still I was very stiff, but getting more comfortable.

Erich, on the other hand, was excellent with large compositions and went to town each day alternating between two murals, "Waving Lenny" and "Parade Lenny."
The man had a vision, and Jane come on board to paint Washington.
We needed this portrait to represent the historic event which probably occurred on the gas station property.  On April 23, 1790, George Washington did a Victory Tour of Long Island.  He made a loop over the course of three days going out as far as Stetauket, stopping in Smithtown and later on his was to Oyster Bay, had lunch in the Widow Platt's Tavern, here in Huntington.  The tavern's location  was in the next property, where the Park Avenue Deli stands, but there were barns on the gas station property.
Since Washington traveled with a carriage and horses, they were most likely tethered there.  3000 people, everyone who lived in the town, came out to see "the great man."  Washington gave a short speech to the crowd.
 Now Erich was really rolling, and said that we needed a picture of the Huntington Harbor Lighthouse.  Here he is making a grid in order to enlarge a photo of the lighthouse.
This was more my forte, so I asked him if I could do this mural.
The first day.
I worked on the rocks, but the top didn't seem right, so following Erich' lead, and I repainted it.
 When you work on a mural of this size, you have to go up and down a ladder many, many times.  We also used a scaffold, but there was only one and we used it for other parts of the project.  The ladder was my father's, who was a house painter.  It had a nice resting place for the paints which made trips up and down a lot fewer!
Erich went to town painting beyond the wooden panels, and onto the bricks.
News12 came to interview Erich about the murals and about the building in Copiague, which is intended to help shelter homeless veterans. Here Ken  Grimball, speaks with Erich.
Joshua Toor, son of the Newsday writer Joye Brown, came to help out, after school.
He started off with me, but quickly claimed the right corner of the Parade mural for himself, working on the buildings and a new group of parade goers.
Each day, Erich would show up and add some new element or repaint something. I tried to keep up with recording the progress with my digital camera.
One day a young man who had just come home from Iraq, stood in front of the murals and cried.  The next thing Erich did was to represent different eras of veterans on the murals.
He was well on to the bricks.
The morning that I saw this painting of a Viet Nam soldier, memories of the conflict came flooding back.  Several of my friends were in that conflict.
He wanted to represent all races, genders, and eras of American patriots in the murals

Erich asked the firemen to hang a large American flag over George.
Things were really interesting on the corner!
A Syracuse art student volunteered for a day, during her spring break.
Jane repainted George's face until she was satisfied.
Flags appeared, and flowers while posters in support of Veterans were posted.
He added more details in the Waving Lenny mural.
An environmental company showed up sent by Exxon Mobil to test the soil.
Lenny's face was repainted by Jane.  And each day something else happened.
"In God we trust." The flag and the hands were corrected.

With Erich Preis' vision this turned into
this
and this
and this

7 comments:

Pieces of Dreams said...

Hi Lori! How wonderful! I love that picture of you "pitching in". What a masterpiece! I will have to write to Wayne's Mom and refer her to your blog so she can see it if she hasn't already! Congrats on the new mural! Karen

Erin @ I Heart New England said...

This is amazing!!! What a wonderful thing to do! Huntington is such a fascinating town, filled with such history!

Must check this out as soon as I can! ♥

Elizabeth said...

This is your best post so far!
Really well documented and really interesting.
A true community project.
Well done.
Of course I knew Lenny from the photo shop.
A great Huntington character.
i bet you did the plantings too?!
Hope to see it in person next week.

robert schmid said...

what a great painting. a mural is always such fun to do. the results are truly wonderful. i thought your background figures were very good and the entire work looks great.

Anonymous said...

your light house painting is fantastic. i'm glad to see you included yourself in the photo , bush in hand.

Sue Allalemdjian said...

Thanks, Lori.
Your pictures tell a fabulous story, as usual. Huntington is a great town with great people. I miss it.
Sue

Pieces of Dreams said...

Hi Lori!

Thank you for the compliments on the candles. And yes, I will share. I am presently working on the pictures for my next blog, which will be a tutorial on making them! Also, yes, I do all the furniture myself...Wayne uses a sprayer for the wicker and some other pieces. I use the sprayer or paint the pieces with a cigar roller. (And then add some of the detail artwork on certain pieces.) Right now I am behind due to having surgery and being limited to what I am able to do...But, everyday I am getting stronger and should be in full swing soon! Thanks for the kind words, Karen