Recognized for her talent and ability to capture community, muralist Tess Parker was commissioned to do another sprawling piece, this time for the south side of the West Sayville post office building.
The original mural, painted in the 1980s by a now-forgotten artist along with high school students from Sayville High School, has faded and made it difficult to spot the post office from Main Street.
Parker was brought in by management of the post office to revitalize the building, which is currently undergoing construction to house a new bistro.
“Michael Salvatore of the post office and Louis Evangelista, the landlord, were both incredibly supportive of my work,” said Parker.
It was decided that the “West Sayville, USPS” signage should be on the mural, but Parker, wanting to branch out from her letter murals as she had done in Oakdale, decided to incorporate the sign as part of the beach scene she envisioned.
“I wanted to do a beach scene from my own conception, so while the South Shore is known for its waterfront, the waters and stone jetties are from my imagination of a beach,” said Parker.
Constantly playing with perspective, almost in a Flemish tradition, Parker’s waves are neither crashing nor placid, but an intense play of color of specific tones that are echoed in the sunset scene placed in the middle. The palette included custom-made oranges, yellows, and pinks evocative of a Lisa Frank piece, but with a sophistication to capture the spirit of a tranquil end of day.
The wave lines are purposely distorted to contrast against the horizon line and beg the viewer to process the scene longer than a glance. The crests do not cap off in simple white, but rather a rainbow of almost iridescent swirls.
In contrast is a stone jetty painted in mostly grays that imposes on the light-colored water, but brings the viewer into the mural as someone to walk the lonely path out to sea.
The biggest ode to the post office is a 10-by-10 postage stamp emblazoned with an American flag and bald eagle carrying a letter, set off by “purple mountains majesty” of the popular children’s song.
The eagle is the only part of the mural that required reference photographs for Parker, who relished her freedom of imagination in this commission.
Utilizing all outdoor paints from Benjamin Moore and with concrete as a canvas, Parker only had to do one coat of polyurethane for preservation. “It probably didn’t even need it, but just to be afe, I’m putting on the protective coat,” said Parker. “It is time consuming as you can’t roll on poly; it has to be brushed on.”
Since completing her last commission in Oakdale, Parker’s business, Therapeutic Murals, has blossomed, with portrait commissions for engagements, weddings, pets, and children as well as murals in homes, particularly children’s rooms.
With the weather getting colder, Parker said that the post office mural will likely be her last until next spring.