Saturday, July 27, 2013

Press Release!

I am so happy to announce that I have been hired to be a Lead Apprentice for a local mural.  Our Business Improvement District hired an artist from PA, Elody Gyekis.  I was hired as her Lead Apprentice and two other local artists will be assisting me.  [All the information in great detail is  below.]  For the past 3 days I've had many artists in my home, all sharing in the process and helping us trace on the 5 x 5 foot panels.  These panels will be transported to the library and the community (everyone is welcome -no art experience necessary) will have the opportunity to paint the mural!  The painting will be ongoing- probably ending around Sep 30th, 2013.   The panels will then be adhered to a building in Downtown Toms River! Look for the unveiling to be around mid October!  If you'd like to participate-Contact me:

For Immediate Release    

Media Contact: Jody Alessandrine or Arleen Read

July 17,  2013                                                      Tel :  (732) 341-8738

Downtown Toms River Community Mural Project About to Begin
Public Mural Painting Sessions

TOMS RIVER, NJ -   The Downtown Toms River Community Mural Projectis about to host open public participating in the mural painting process. The project is being coordinated by the 501 (c) (3) non-profit Toms River BusinessDevelopment Corporation, which administers the Toms River Improvement District (aka the BID and Downtown Toms River.

The lead sponsor for this project is The Kiwanis Club of Toms River. Both the Evening and Daybreak group meetings have partnered with Downtown Toms River, as has Ocean First Bank, Home Depot, and the Ocean County Library, Toms River Branch.
Painting sessions begin on or about August 5, in the Children’s Discovery Reading Room of the Downtown Toms River Library Branch at 101 Washington St. (More details forthcoming).
The lead artist is Elody Gyekis. Ms. Gyekis  hails from Lewisburg, PA . She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Ceramics from Penn State with honors in Visual Arts and Civic and Community Engagement and minors in Sociology and Civic and Community Engagement.  Her artwork includes painting, drawing, ceramics, sculpture, graphic design, video, and photography. Since 2006, Ms. Gyekis has also been organizing large-scalecommunity mural projects in which hundreds of participants come together to collaboratively brainstorm, design, and paint the murals. She brings together the community’s ideas into a collaborative design, and then transforms that design into a paint-by-number mural that the community participants then help to complete, fostering community pride and collective identity.  Her murals include the Valley Roots Community Mural Project 2008 in Millheim, PA three murals in Harrisburg, PA and the Dreams Take Flight Mural Project 2010 in State College, PA. Most recently, Ms. Gyekis was the Lead Artist for the Colors of Music community mural, also in State College, and is currently involved in mural projects in Huntingdon and Wellsboro, PA.  She has presented her community mural work and research at various conferences including National Art Education Association annual conferences as well as state conferences in both art education and in Public Health. Ms. Gyekis also teaches painting and ceramics classes at various levels.
Three local artists are Ms. Gyekis’ apprentice artists, with Yvonne Yaar serving as lead apprentice, and Mark Retacco and Tamara Woronczuk assisting. Toms River Business Development Corporation Board member Marshall Kern of Crossroads Realty, Bob Henne of, and Chas Sergewick of Morgan Stanley, Toms River Office, comprise the Mural Sub-committee, and collectively, have already dedicated over 100 volunteer hours to the project.
The mural project began last Fall, with the community being invited to share their ideas for the theme of the mural. After about four-plus months of community input, and almost 40 concepts put forward, the aforementioned team met with Ms. Gyekis and determined how best to interpret the most consistent themes. Ms. Gyekis then prepared a draft from which, ultimately, the mural is traced-out onto special fabric, which is cut into approximately 5x5 panels, and a color-code paint-by-number system is incorporated by the local artists. This is a preparation phase for the public painting sessions.
Jody Alessandrine, Executive Director of Downtown Toms River was directly involved in the similar community mural projects as Executive Director of Downtown State College and thus is familiar with the concept. “The community aspect is exceptional. The public painting sessions bring people Downtown, 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 re-visit Downtown. That is, both groups who have never seen it, as well as those who took part in painting the mural— they bring friends and family back to see their work!” Alessandrine said the similar projects in State College had hundreds of people participating in the painting, consisting of a wide variety of age groups (preschoolers to octogenarians), and several visitors from several different countries.
Once the mural is completed, it is placed on the selected wall with a special glue, and then covered with a protective coating to insure the integrity of the artwork is not compromised by weather or other damage, such as graffiti. 
Alessandrine added that it is the hope of Downtown Toms River and the local artists who are learning this new skill from Ms. Gyekis, which this will be the first of many future community murals, and public displays or art, to come in Ocean County’s county seat.
In the next few weeks, the Downtown Toms River will be announcing “the wall” that the first community mural will adorn.
Details about the mural project can be found at
Community painting sessions times will be announced shortly.
To learn more about Elody Gyekis, visit Patty Satalia’s radio interview as part of the PA People series:, or browse her website:
For general information about Downtown Toms River, including investing in Downtown or opening a business, or about  the Downtown Gift Card Program, visit
or call 732-341-8738.


Laura Petrovich- Cheney said...

Whoo-Hoo! Congratulations!

Laura Petrovich- Cheney said...

Whoo-Hoo! Congratulations!

YoYo said...

Thanks Laura! Feel free to come on over- we'll be tracing Monday, Tuesday and Wedneday. Email me at for the address. We are having so much fun!