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Artists, public laud history at mural's re-dedication

WARRENSBURG The towns colorful Bicentennial Mural has welcomed people to Warrensburg for 30 years and has reminded townspeople of their culture and history. Sunday afternoon, More than 80 people attended rededication ceremonies during a steady drizzle, extolling the recent restoration effort on the mural. But they also lauded the expansive original mural, which was designed and painted by the late Eva Cockcroft, the muralist who has gained renown internationally in recent years for her work. The Warrensburgh Bicentennial Mural was painted in 1976 for the U.S. Bicentennial celebration. The ceremony also tribute to the restoration muralist, Mary Lovendusky. At Sundays celebration, local citizens listened to speeches by key players of this 2007 restoration project sponsored the Warrensburgh Historical Society. Muralist Eva Cockcrofts husband, Dr. James Cockcroft, was among those at the celebration, along with artist Dick Doux. In 1976 they worked on the mural, assisting Eva Cockcroft, who died of cancer in 1999. Historical Society Past President Steve Parisi spoke of the long process of arranging for the restoration. The easy part, he said, was raising the money to pay expenses, which exceeded $20,000. A challenge grant from the Charles R. Wood Foundation in January 2007 kick-started the fundraiser. Within two months of the initial appeal this very generous local community had contributed more than the challenge match, Parisi recalled. Parisi complimented Ms. Lovendusky for her in-depth research into the subject as well as her untiring solo physical effort in carefully cleaning the 72 foot by 24 foot surface, sealing the original painting and then matching the original colors and design. Dr. Cockcroft, whose family still owns a summer residence on Friends Lake, remembered Warrensburg in the 1970s. The North Country Arts Center, located adjacent to the A&P where the Health Center is now located played a large role with the towns youth at the time. Eva Cockcroft brought together a group of local youth to create and paint a mural, with an ecological theme, on the side of the A&P entitled Which River? Dr. Cockcroft stated that this may have been the first mural of its kind, created and executed by a local public collective, in the United States. Among the youth who worked on that mural, which was removed later, were Town Councilman Dean Ackley, Highway Superintendent, Ed Pennock and sheriffs deputy Brian Engle. Cockcroft spoke of the influence his wife had on public murals on both the East and West coasts. They co-authored a landmark book entitled Toward a Peoples Art, the Contemporary Mural Movement published in 1977 and reissued in 1998. He stated that the townspeople of Warrensburg own a piece of artwork that will be known throughout the international art world and that people would visit the town just to see the Warrensburg Mural. Mary Lovendusky spoke of her work as an artist, painting theater scenery and finding a strong interest in large scale building applications. She told of working at the nations premier theme parks. Brought to this area by work at Adirondack Studios and Michael Hagen Studio, she found work with Clark Dunham, Capital Rep, Lake George Opera, The Wood and other area theaters. She declared her love for the beauty of the Adirondacks keeps her here. Lovendusky said she was pleased to have the opportunity to work on the Warrensburg mural, having eyed it daily on her commute to work. As an artist she saw ways she would change it, improve it, until she actually got the opportunity. As her research increased and she discovered the work of the original artist she realized that her role was to preserve the work of Eva Cockcroft, for whom she said she developed a great respect. Lovendusky stated that she learned a great deal in being granted this challenging job. I appreciated learning what a Historical Society is all about, what the historic public mural movement was about, and having the opportunity to do something for this community, in preserving their Eva Cockcroft mural. At the conclusion, Chambers and Parisi unveiled the bronze plaque commemorating the murals restoration.

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