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“To respect a cat is the beginning of the aesthetic sense.”

Updated: May 4, 2019

This spring break week has been a busy and productive time for ART YARD as we worked hard to complete The Collector of Proverbs, our public mural on the third floor of MS 226 in South Ozone Park Queens.

A hard working team of MS 226 Art Club Students, MS 226 Alumni, cousins, ART YARD Teens, Volunteers and Teaching Artists worked together seamlessly. We began with a critique and brainstorming session to organize our plan for the week. Then Dennis and Flávia went to Home Depot to purchase supplies.

Art Club students Janelle and Richard worked with Jane in the gallery to complete the proverb drawings which are highlighted in the piece.

Up on the third floor MS 226 Alumnus Julianna, ART YARD Teen Blaze, and Glendalys completed sketching out the composition.

It was all hands on deck when the supplies arrived and we dove into painting. At the end of the day we cleaned up and had another critique to assess our progress.

Our next full day of painting saw much progress. Working on site in a long hallway meant that we could spread out and take on elements of the piece to work on -- swapping spots like an intricate dance.

As you can imagine, having the school free of most students, meant that we had a very serene environment in which to create. A natural banter and storytelling happens when working on a mural like this – we laughed a lot. Other times we listened to music, switching from one style to another. All of us singing along!

Jane proved to be a fantastic source of color mixing skills. She explained to us how she color mixes as a professional photographer and taught us to look at balance and light.

We spoke to each other in English and Spanish and Portuguese and Italian!

For our final day of painting I brought in the requested picture references – leaver door handles, door hinges, a Grandmother clock, my paintings of Roman Windowphilia.

It was a bit of a divide-and-conquer approach for this final stretch. Some of the team cut and glued on proverb drawings using wallpaper paste and an arduous method of pressing down pieces of cardboard until the glue set. Flávia oversaw the process as Richard, Dennis and Ashana proved patient and diligent!

The rest of us painted our hearts out.

School Security Officer Ahmed took me up on the invitation to venture to the third floor to check out our progress. Flávia spoke to Officer Ahmed about the idea we had in mind for the mural – depicting a palatial villa (it got snazzier as we worked on it) of an intellectual individual interested in folklore and proverbs.

Dennis served as editor, carefully reading all the student text to make sure we had not missed any spelling errors (we had a few and an omitted word).

In an eleventh hour stroke of genius we realized the Palazzo was in need of a feline. After a heated discussion about where the cat should be placed, I pulled up a photo of my Rik to serve as the handsome model for Kyra to work from:

Jane took some great photographs as we worked!

Photograph by Jane Huntington

At the end of the day Dennis, Blaze and Kyra set out to get some supplies to Kentler Gallery in anticipation of ART YARD Summer Session.

Today (in the MONSOON) I went back to fix some signage and to cover the mural in two coats of protective clear top coat. I was thrilled to hear from Head Custodian Libby that he really likes the mural! He particularly complemented our group approach. Libby recognized that there were many artists involved and all of us contributed our unique touch.

The mural will be officially unveiled at our upcoming opening at ART YARD Gallery at MS 226 on Tuesday, May 7, from 11am-1pm.

Please mark your calendars and join us!

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