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Mural to brighten Edison town hall entrance

By KATHY CHANG
Staff Writer

EDISON — The ‘dark’ concrete entrance corridor leading into the Edison Municipal Building is getting a sunny uplift with the help of the internationally renowned artist and township resident, Fernando Silva.

“It needs some dressing up … it’s a dark corridor,” said Beth Maroney, who is the director of publicity for the Edison Arts Society (EAS.)

By the end of September, the corridor is expected to shine with ceramic murals that will consist of more than 200 tiles on both sides of the corridor spanning 10 feet wide by 5 feet high.

One of the murals is devoted to the township’s namesake, Thomas Edison, and the other is to honor all the men, women and companies who have helped develop the township.

The project began last year as a concept by the Edison Arts Society to do something to enhance the municipal building, which was built in 1987. EAS is a nonprofit organization established in 1998 by Catherine Spadoro, wife of then-Mayor George Spadoro, designed  to cultivate and foster a love for all of the arts.

Gloria Dittman, chairwoman of the EAS, said she contacted Silva, who has erected large ceramic murals in Newark and Elizabeth.

Silva, who has lived in Edison for 22 years and is originally from Portugal, has participated in various art exhibitions. This year, he received a Community Spirit award from the Edison Chamber of Commerce.

His artwork is represented in many official art collections in various countries and he has illustrated various types of books for poets and writers, including organizing and choreographing and painting scenes for different events.

Silva said work on the murals began a year ago with visits to the Thomas Edison Memorial Tower and Menlo Park Museum, the various parks and gardens in the township, the various churches, and more.

“I took photographs and did sketches,” he said.

Silva said the murals have a lot of movement from the center, which displays the Edison Memorial Tower and from there the movement drifts out to familiar landmarks in the township from the parks, gardens, churches such as the St. James Episcopal Church on Woodbridge Avenue, schools, the Raritan River and more.

Interwoven in the artwork are windows from the landmarks, people and steps that signify what Silva said he observed as he soaked in the diverse population of the fifth largest township in the state.

The project will incorporate all of the logos of every school, public and private, in the district on a ceramic tile. The EAS contacted each school for the project.

“This will be something forever,” said Dittman. “Every tile is handmade and will be done in stages.”

Dittman said Ardex Americas, a company based in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, will offer its tile installation services at the direction of Silva.

On August 22, Silva was in the midst of putting the final touches as he stroked ceramic pigments with a brush on the mural devoted to the township’s namesake Thomas Edison in his small studio at his residence.

He said he works best at night into the early morning hours with Antonio Vivaldi playing in the background.

“It helps me do my work and put it all together,” he said of the music.

Dittman said she and Silva attended a Township Council meeting in March letting the council know of the project. She said the project has the support of Mayor Thomas Lankey and the council.

As part of the project, Dittman said Silva will also create the number 100 out of tile to put on the building to signify the address number of the building. She said currently there’s no number on the building, which can make the building hard to find for the public.

The EAS is seeking donations to help with the cost of installing the ceramic murals. Checks can be made out to the Edison Arts Society and mailed to 15 Midland Road Edison, NJ 08820. The donor would be recognized at the dedication reception and receive a tile memento.

For more information visit edisonarts.org.

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