Participating in Toms River’s first community mural project is as simple as paint-by-numbers.
The ambitious 45-by-19 foot project, which eventually will adorn a wall in the township’s downtown, kicked off this week with painting sessions in Toms River’s Ocean County Library branch. Anyone, regardless of age or artistic ability, is welcome to help bring it to life, said lead apprentice Yvonne Yaar.
“It’s a community-driven project,” she said. “We want the whole town to do it. Everyone is welcome and no experience is necessary.”
Led by artist Elody Gyekis, who has organized other large-scale murals, Toms River’s project features scenes from the township’s namesake waterway.
Plans for the Kiwanis Club-sponsored project, which is being administered by the Toms River Business Development Corporation, began in the fall. Community members were invited to share their ideas for the theme and after more than four months of input and 40 concepts, the design was chosen and Gyekis went to work.
Along with Yaar, fellow local artists Mark Retacco and Tamara Woronczuk are guiding the project. They worked with volunteers to trace the mural on to the 30 panels which are waiting in the library to painted by locals.
“That took us seven solid days with a good four volunteer artists working for eight hours a day,” Yaar said.
Painting the project is as simple as matching up one of the 61 colors to a corresponding area on the canvas. Those interested in contributing to the project are encouraged to sign up online.
“The public painting sessions bring people downtown,” said Jody Alessandrine, executive director of Downtown Toms River in a statement. “It’s an event that last over a few months. Then, once the mural is in place, it becomes a reason for many to visit and revisit downtown.”
Downtown Toms River representatives next week plan to announce which wall the mural will adorn. It will be publicly unveiled during this year’s HarvestFest in October.