Illustrator Samantha Neukirch with a sample of the images she'll create for a mural to adorn a wall inside the downtown playground. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Another young artist is looking to brighten up a blank wall downtown with a colorful mural as part of East End Arts’ JumpstART event this summer.

Samantha Neukirch, a 23-year-old illustrator from Smithtown, wants to install a marine life themed mixed-media mural on the wall of the West Main Street comfort station that faces the new children’s playground. The playground adjoins the River and Roots Community Garden and Grangebel Park.

Neukirch, armed with samples of her proposed installation, pitched the idea to the town board at its weekly work session yesterday and got an immediate green light.

“I love it,” Supervisor Sean Walter said.

The 8 by 24 foot mural will consist of digital images of local aquatic life.

“It will be done in kind of a video game type of style,” Neukirch told the board. “I think the kids will really like this.”

Her digital images will be applied to boards and the boards will be installed on the south wall of the comfort station.

Her method is similar to the one used by artist Caitlyn Shea last year for the mural on a building just east of McDermott Avenue, though Shea’s images were applied directly to the building surface.

“Caitlyn is one of my mentors,” Neukirch told the board.

“I looked at a lot of possible locations for my mural,” Neukirch said in an interview afterwards. “I thought this was the perfect size and spot.”

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The downtown playground where a colorful, aquatic-themed mural is planned to brighten a blank wall within the site. Photo: Denise Civiletti

The project will cost about $2,000, Neukirch said. She plans to launch a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for materials and supplies.

Neukirch, a 2014 FIT graduate, said after the meeting she was excited to get started and buoyed by the town board’s swift embrace. She said she plans to begin assembling the mural within a couple of weeks and install the mural late next month, in advance of this year’s JumpstART event on Aug. 7.

JumpstART, a creative placemaking project by East End Arts, debuted in downtown Riverhead last year. It featured public art installations throughout the downtown area, with dance, drumming, music and spoken word performances in various locations. The Friday night event drew a large crowd and was hailed as a great success.

The town board will have the town attorney’s office draft a license agreement to allow use of the comfort station wall and the buildings and grounds department will oversee the installation of the boards on the wall, Walter said.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.