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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Extending Her Paintbrush, With a Nervous Gulp

Woodstock's New Mural
Imagine painting larger-than-life scenes, perched on a scaffold, at times nearly thirty feet above bone-breaking cement, and vehicles, below, zooming past. Imagine scrambling down that intricate, metal bracing when an unexpected lightning storm lashes the sky or when the heat is so intense you feel dizzy enough to careen right off your birds-eye-view platform. Imagine you've got little children longing for their mama to make it back home, again, to feed them dinner and play with them in the backyard.

Annalysa Kimball, our Woodstock mural artist must have dealt with such issues. She prevailed. We commend her steady reach and her bravery. Oh, I forgot to mention her greatest risk--she had to please 30,000 people with her creation. She succeeded wildly. An overabundance of creativity put her over the top. Preparation aided her. Annalysa spent countless hours drawing ideas from local citizens and getting to know the heartbeat of the city.

The artist skillfully pulled black-and-white images from Woodstock's past to mingle them with present-day scenes. One of my favorites is Lewis Carpenter whose knuckleball pitches for the Atlanta Crackers of the 1940s made his town proud. Another portrayal that makes me smile is the 1913 photo of Magnolia Thomas, beloved teacher for her community. The image has been tweaked to show her watchful eyes turned to supervise modern-day children at play. 
Representing Preservation Woodstock, I was one of a dozen committee members that evaluated applications and artwork to select the artist. I noticed three things that set her style apart: a strong ability to paint the animated human form (Woodstock is all about the people), a bit of humor sneaking into her compositions and, most importantly, life-affirming, vibrant joy. I am so happy with the outcome. Stop by the mural on the side of the pharmacy at Mill Street and Main. You'll absolutely love it, too!

At sidewalk level, townsfolk who had come to view progress, earlier, found themselves and their real dog in the painting.

Of course, everyone's favorite Woodstock history resource found herself captured, too. Annalysa spent many hours, consulting with Juanita Hughes.

The Dean Brothers in the 1910 photo of their soda fountain stare curiously at our current day selves. A modern woman reaches into the past to take a 'selfie'. At the bottom, there is some question as to who is in the mural and who is real.

Lots of Woodstock folk came out to celebrate their new mural.
Patti Brady is a member of Preservation Woodstock, and she is the author of the contemporary Woodstock novels: The Heart of a Child and The Power of Her Smile.