Crowds gathered by the score, watching as news reporters interviewed and cameras clicked away. What exactly was creating such a buzz? Was there a visiting celebrity in our midst? Was it a street performer or juggler entertaining the throng? But wait, as an opening appears this reporter can see a group of six children hanging around a doorway holding instruments and chatting. Something's strange about the scene, the children are not moving! What is this I wonder?
It is the first Village of Great Neck Plaza Trompe L'oeil mural being installed on the corner of Middle Neck Road and Maple Drive on the Daruma Restaurant wall. After over a year in the planning, design and execution, Mayor Jean Celender and renowned muralist William Cochran stood beaming beside the completed work of art as they fielded questions from the people. Children gathered around the mural shouting with delight and amazement at the life-like renderings. Motorists passing by did "double" and "triple" takes as they mouthed the word "wow" and slowly drove off.
The artist spent the weekend sitting on his little green stool, wearing a large straw hat to ward off the sun, and large ear phones to block out the multitude of questions from intruding on his concentration while he put the final touches on this masterpiece. Brochures and a comment book share a stand placed right beside him so the facts and history of the project are easily accessible and everyone has an opportunity to share their thoughts about the mural.
What a wonderful reception for this long-awaited mural. As people noted about this beautifully executed painting, this trompe l'oeil does look like the children are ready to enter a door that appears to be part of the building. Obviously, this takes a large amount of time and no small amount of money. The village's goal is to raise all of the monies to pay for this mural from corporate and private donations. We are getting close, but still short of our goal. We welcome any donations, large and small, to support this project. To make a donation, send a check to the village, made payable to: Great Neck Plaza Mural Program, as a 100 percent tax-deductible contribution to the Village of Great Neck Plaza. A printable form is available on-line at the village's web site on our home page under "Hot Off the Press," at www.greatneckplaza.net.
Major donors will be given A Handful of Keys framed certificate with an antique key, and be recognized in a plaque that will be erected at the mural site. There's still an opportunity to be on this plaque, but time is running out! A dedication ceremony is expected in the fall when the fund-raising goal is met. Mayor Celender thanks the board of trustees and the VGNP Public Art Advisory Group, which is assisting the mayor and board of trustees in implementing and fund raising for this beautification program.
The village urges residents and businesses to join the growing list of donors, including: Frank Lalazarian, Tower Ford, Lynda and Patrick Silberstein, Jean Celender and Jeffrey Schwartz, Jeffrey, Cheryl and Steve Feiner, Steve Wimpfheimer, Myron Vogel, The Tilles Family, The Andrew Hotel, North Shore Sephardic Synagogue, Hy Carlinsky, Poultry Mart, David and Marilyn Kohn, Kestenbaum & Marks, Jeffrey & Diana Phillips, United Capital Corp., Westerman, Ball, Ederer, Miller & Sharfstein, Golden First Mortgage Corp., J.Z. Cutter Management Corp., Gould Investors/Majestic Property Affiliates, Judi & Jay Bosworth, Mojo Stumer Associates Architects, Daruma Restaurant, Belfer Management, Neil & Sandra Feldstein, Great Neck Properties, Sterling National Bank, HSBC Bank, Lee Seaman, Neil and Louise Slater, FedEx Store, Gail Grove, Precise/Ceres Abstract, Gibgot, Willenbacher & Co., North Shore Community Arts Council, The Dolgin Family, Joel and Jan Liebowitz, Wild and Garfunkel Attorneys, Charlotte and Richard Gabriele, Richland Management, Great Neck Co-op and Condominium Council, Richland Management, Charlotte and Richard Gabriele, Hy Carlinsky and Raine and Stanley Silverstein.