Murals Bloom At Gateway Garden

Standing tall or small, with tiny fingers dipped in paint or bigger hands wielding brushes, more than 70 volunteer adults and children painted for more than a month during this past summer to create 5 murals now gracing Gateway Park Organic Community Garden in Huntington Station.

On Saturday, Oct. 1, the community of gardeners and painters gathered to celebrate completion of the murals and present them to the community. “We had the models right here,” said mural designer Lucienne Pereira, a Centerport resident. “We took flowers from the garden and analyzed them, how many petals, what does the center look like. It was a wonderful experience working with everyone.”
The idea for the murals grew out of a conversation between Pereira and Heather Forest, director of non-profit Story Arts, Inc. The two were picking string beans at Fox Hollow Farm in Dix Hills that would be donated to a local food bank. Pereira wanted to apply for an arts grant but needed a good project  that involved the community.

“I said, “I have the perfect project,” because murals are a narrative art form and can tell the story of the garden,” Forest remembered on Saturday, as the gardener/painters walked around the murals pointing to the flowers or insects they had helped paint. Forest and Larry Foglia, owners of Fox Hollow Farm Inc., are among the founders of the Long Island Community Agriculture Network (LICAN), which is building and managing Gateway under license from the Town of Huntington. Susan Gaber, a children’s book illustrator, assisted Pereira throughout the painting process.

The celebration featured an original song, “Celebration,” written and sung by David Francois, a local resident who returned over and over to paint in the garden. “It just made me feel very happy,” he said. Another local resident, Victoria Ross, sang a cappella, while her father, Warren, played in a trio with Jim Sostarich and Brad Davidson.

Town Council Member Glenda Jackson thanked the gardeners and volunteers for the murals, noting especially the diversity of the community that created them.

The murals provide gardeners and visitors with a graphic textbook on gardening, showing insects and pollination and the stages of vegetable growth in vivid color on one side of the 24’ by 6’mural facing Lowndes Ave. and on panels that decorate three of the garden’s extra high raised beds for people with disabilities. The other side of the large mural displays a planting calendar, showing month by month when various vegetables can be started from seed or seedling.

The Gateway Garden Mural Project was sponsored by Story Arts and made possible in part by an Individual Artist Grant from the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program administered by the Huntington Arts Council, with additional support from LICAN, the Town of Huntington, the Town’s Open Space Committee, and local businesses including Kleet Lumber, Sherwin Williams Paint, Value Drugs, Fox Hollow Farm, The Deck and Patio Company, and United Signs and Awnings.

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