Local teacher, students help turn Murray Hill into canvas for public art

Local teacher, students help turn Murray Hill into canvas for public art
Lee High School alumnus Katie Welch (Class of 2016), Lee High School art teacher Anne Jacques, Jessie Clark (Class of 2015), Creshuna Miles (Class of 2011), back: Devon Jacques, art teacher at Enterprise Learning Academy, and daughter of Anne Jacques

The side of the Murray Hill Theater has become a canvas for Robert E. Lee High School art teacher Anne Jacques and some of her former students as part of the Murray Hill Preservation Association’s Mural Project.

Jacques and up to a dozen helpers are working on the mural from the bottom up, wielding paintbrushes from 8 a.m. until noon each weekday before the heat becomes unbearable.

“I think it will take us about three weeks to complete it,” said Jacques, who explained a death in her family took her away from the project shortly after the wall was primed, setting the schedule back.

Designed by New York City artist Jon Burgerman, the mural is the first in a series of scenes MHPA will be commissioning for the neighborhood. Jacques has added a few whimsical touches, such as a coffee cup, a book and a musical note, as tribute to nearby businesses.

The public art initiative is a partnership between MHPA and local businesses to beautify the neighborhood and promote art in public places.

Paint Craft Store, a long-standing Murray Hill family business owned and operated by 1977 Lee High graduate Joel Smith, has donated the supplies needed to complete the first mural. Smith’s father bought the business over 50 years ago when it was originally located on Edgewood Avenue.

“We’re excited to help improve the neighborhood and support our alma mater,” said Smith’s son Bradley, a 2006 Lee graduate and store manager. Another Lee alumnus, Craig Tarre (Class of ’68), is one of nine employees who provide paint, coatings, supplies and equipment, as well as expertise, to their wholesale customers.

Now located on Plymouth Street, the paint supply store donated a white primer coat to the project also, which is necessary to allow the red and yellow colors to remain vivid, according to Joel Smith. He said the type of paint Jacques and her helpers are using will enable the mural to last a long time.

The project is also part of festivities planned to celebrate Murray Hill’s 100th anniversary this year. A block party and formal mural unveiling will take place this fall.

Information on the mural project, along with details on how artists can submit proposals, is available online at murrayhilljax.com.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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