Niagara Gazette — By Doug Smith
Special to the Gazette
PROJECTS: Plaza mural, Taste of Grand Island to be unveiled Saturday.
How do you cure an eyesore?
How about applying 20 gallons of multi-colored Murine?
And that’s how Grand Island High graduate and nationally known artist Terry Klaaren has treated the cinderblock east wall of the Grand Island Plaza.
The job’s not even finished and already it gleams. Framed by arches, eight Island views and three significant Islanders now face Baseline Road. If it sounds like too much of a job for one man, well, it is. Klaaren and his lovely wife Dori greet a daily lineup of volunteers to help with the touchup.
Amid images of pastures, bridges, lighthouses and boat fires, artists-for-a-day line up with their stepladders and paint rollers, tickling touch-ups onto the clothing of the Native American Red Jacket, World War II hero Earl DeGlopper and pioneer educator Charlotte Sidway.
It would be almost comical if it weren’t so beautiful.
Since the project is “too big to veil,” the nearest thing to an uncovering will take place Saturday in consort with the first-ever Taste of Grand Island, all co-ordinated and orchestrated by young Corey McGowan, who didn’t even get it rolling until mid-July.
The wall totals 3,000 square feet – think football field, upright. Klaaren, well-established in the field in Tampa, FL, calls it his largest work ever, and in his images sought to provide “a contiguous, panoramic view of Island images.”
Klaaren dedicates the work at in part to Grand Island art teacher Lyn Lehman who, with Klaaren’s future uncertain and the draft looming in 1969, urged him to “go at least to a community college, study advertising, learn the world of illustration that way.” Two years later Klaaren had a degree from Mohawk Community College and a purpose in life. “I knew I didn’t want to go into advertising,” he says, “but I knew I wanted to go into art.”
The rest is history, illustrated, visible to Island-crossers for time immemorial.
Co-ordinator McGowan, meanwhile, has arranged for a Taste of Grand Island with samples as various as the dumplings of Serene Gardens, the beer-cheese soup of the Village Inn and the Cajun specialties of Dick & Jenny’s and the jalapeno poppers of Say Cheese. Servings continue from 11 to 7 in the Plaza at Grand Island Boulevard and Whitehaven Road.IF YOU GO n WHAT: Taste of Grand Island n WHERE: Plaza at Grand Island Boulevard and Whitehaven Road n WHEN: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday