by Wendy P. Owen
TOMS RIVER – On October 17, the Toms River Harvest Arts Festival will have the honor of hosting the unveiling of the second mural to be installed downtown on the side of Nancy’s Midtown Café, 207 Main Street. Like the first mural placed on the side wall of Second Skin last year, this project is led by local artist Yvonne Yaar, and is another step for the Toms River Business Improvement District and the Toms River Artist Community to draw attention to town as an arts friendly haven in Ocean County. To that end, Elizabeth Paseler of Forked River, NJ, won the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation’s $10,000 prize for her design portraying a bustling Toms River business district.
The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation has been particularly vested in bringing the arts of Toms River the attention it deserves. Their “Engage Toms River” initiative has helped to give the mural program its legs, and there are many more plans in the works. As proactive grant makers, the Foundation’s mission is “to bring world class performing and visual art, health care and education to Toms River through focused community-based planning and problem solving.” Jeremy Grunin, the Executive Director is laser-focused on fulfilling that mission.
The second mural needed a lot of physical labor to make it work. “I think once we’re done counting everyone, it’s going to be close to 600 people that helped with this project,” estimates Ms. Yarr. “It’s really cool. It’s so family friendly. That’s the one thing that surprised me when we did the first one — how rewarding that part was, the collaboration between the artist and the community.”
Part of the success of such large installations is the design itself. Speaking about Elizabeth Paseler’s concept, Ms. Yaar says, “She saw the wall had existing windows and made that part of the design and used primarily red, black and orange, and it’s got major wow factor! She’s an awesome person. She just did it extremely well, and it’s huge, too. I’d say it’s 3x the size of the first one — 92’ by 28’ – that’s 116 5’x5’ panels!”
As for next Spring’s mural, which was just approved by Toms River Planning Board in August, the pieces are already falling into place. “The next one was something I worked out between myself and Harvey York who owns the building at 218 Main Street, and that one’s going to be glass mosaic. I put a call out internationally on facebook to mosaic artists, so I’ve got people from France England, Australia, Canada, and all over the US so far sending me mosaics. It’s going to be one large fish on the wall and two smaller fish on the wall — Barnegat Bronte and Friends — two fluke and one blue fish, I think. The big fish will be made up of a bunch of the little fish people donating.”
If you missed the chance to help out with the second mural, keep up with the needs for Barnegat Bronte and Friends on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BarnegatBronteFishMosaic.
Photos by Dennis Sharkey.
Visit the Toms River Mural Project Facebook Page to get more updates on this project.