On a 2015 visit to San Francisco, James Mcilroy stopped to observe a work by Austrian urban and graffiti artist, Nychos. The split animal anatomy in a spray paint medium left an impression on the curious Mcilroy that opened a new thought process—and inevitably would result in a major public artistic contribution to the community back home in Oneonta, bringing new life to the historic Ford Sales Building on Market Street.
“This was before I was doing any kind of serious painting,” Mcilroy recalled. “I was so impressed by the scale and started to pick the process apart: ‘okay, Nychos sketched this first and then came in with a flat color here and separated the values and did a complementary color scheme here’.”
The Mamaroneck Historical Society succeeded in its ambitious quest to raise the funds needed to save James Fenimore Cooper murals from destruction, but more work remains as the group strives to rescue the artwork from the walls of Mamaronek High School.
The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta first reported on the endangered murals as word spread of the high school’s plan to cover – and in some cases, destroy – eight Depression-era murals depicting scenes from James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking novels and his life as a resident of the Westchester County town. The murals stand in the way of the Mamaroneck High School’s plans to build new computer learning labs, and the Historical Society leapt into action to spare them from the wrecking ball.
“It’s good news but it’s different news,” Mamaroneck Historical Society’s co-president John Pritts said of the group’s success to date. “We had no idea until we started how complicated it would become to save the artwork.
Time is running out on the James Fenimore Cooper murals hanging on the walls of a Westchester County high school, but the county’s Historical Society has pushed its effort to rescue the paintings into high gear as an April 1 deadline draws near.
The Society’s past president, Carol Akin – a summertime Cooperstown resident – said Mamaroneck High School granted a two-week delay on construction originally slated to begin March 15. Now they’re rushing to raise the $175,000 necessary to save the murals through a GoFundMe page and a public relations push to keep awareness and interest at a peak throughout the month of March.
“We raised $21,000 in the first week,” Mrs. Akin told The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta. “It’s helpful, but at that rate, we aren’t going to make it.”
The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta first reported on the mural standoff several weeks ago as word spread of the high school’s plan to cover – and in some cases, destroy – eight Depression-era murals depicting scenes from James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking novels. The murals stand in the way of the Mamaroneck High School’s plans to build new computer learning labs.
“Two or three of the murals would be destroyed in the reconstruction,” Mrs. Akin said. “The rest
Officials in a Westchester County high school say time is running out in a debate over the fate of eight murals depicting scenes from James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking novels that could be covered to make way for new learning space in the building.
Fenimore Art Museum President Paul D’Ambrosio told The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta the gallery is a potential home for the paintings on the walls of Mamaroneck High School.
“It would be a shame if they were covered,” Mr. D’Ambrosio said, explaining the murals originated from 1930s-era Works Progress Administration art projects. The WPA hired artists from Yale University to create the murals as a nod toward James Fenimore Cooper’s time as a resident of Mamaroneck.
“They’re not amateur work,” he said. “They’re a strong part of local history.”
Otsego Lake is the setting for two of the murals; another shows Cooper in front of Otsego Hall.
Mr. D’Ambrosio said the Fenimore Art Museum discussed moving the murals but it could be expensive, adding, “And it’s not clear how expensive.”
He said, too, the Fenimore lacks space for a permanent exhibit of the Mamaroneck murals and is talking with the school district about the appropriate time needed to raise money and strategize next steps. With construction at the high school imminent, there is a feeling of urgency among those hoping to preserve the murals.
“There might be some flexibility there, but it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of time,” Mr. D’Ambrosio said.
Stephen Harthorn, editor of The James Fenimore Cooper Society Journal, sent a letter to the Mamaroneck Board of Education urging the panel to neither destroy nor cover the murals.