Wall of love

The person depicted on the mural that I know the longest is Gloria Blandina. I clearly remember her watching our family move into her Pittston neighborhood. It was spring of 1959.

The person depicted on the mural that I know the longest is Gloria Blandina. I clearly remember her watching our family move into her Pittston neighborhood. It was spring of 1959.

The person on the downtown mural I know longest is Gloria Blandina. As Gloria Adonizio, she watched my family move into her Pittston neighborhood in spring of 1959.
If I were given to cliches I might call it a labor of love.
Instead, I’ll call it simply love.
I’m talking about the new downtown Pittston mural which will be dedicated Saturday night.
More specifically, I am talking about the artist who created it.
Artist Michael Pilato poured more than his immense talent into the work he calls his masterpiece. He poured every ounce of his loving heart.
A lot has been written and said about the mural which fills the entire southerly side of the refurbished Newrose building. Why is this person there? Was is that one not?
But chatting with Pilato Thursday afternoon with all the figures he painted watching over us, it occurred to me the mural should be viewed purely for what it is: a work of art.
It’s called the Inspiration Mural. In that vein, everyone depicted surely has been inspirational in one way or another.
But in considering it, it is important to remember what the mural is not. It is not a collage of the most important people in Pittston’s history. It is not a wall of fame of Pittston’s most outstanding sons and daughters. And, despite its name, it is not a tribute to the most inspirational people ever to walk the streets of the city.
It is simply a painting illustrating several inspiring individuals, individuals who were nominated by those they inspired, interspersed with the artist’s own interpretation of inspiration.
The work is built around the local lore of the “spaghetti story” which caused All American high school football player Jimmy Cefalo to choose Penn State. It is built around this scene because this is what inspired Michael Pilato in the first place to inquire about creating a mural in Cefalo’s home town.
Most of the others are there because they were nominated for inclusion and one because of what I term a “happy mistake” (see the blog Just Another Reason to Smile in the list below).
But some are there simply because Michael Pilato wanted them there. And when all is said and done, it is his artistic prerogative to paint from his own inspiration.
Perhaps more than anything, the mural represents healing.
Pilato’s daughter Skye, who died recently, is included in three places at three different stages of her life. Also included is her beloved dog. And a hawk flying high above the entire work. Pilato wears a hawk tattoo in Skye’s memory.
And shown in a prominent position is little Justin Burns, who lost a battle to cancer after winning the hearts of all in Greater Pittston. Sitting next to him in the painting are Sponge Bob Square Paints and his sidekick Patrick. The two characters, Pilato was told, gave Justin great pleasure as he fought his good fight.
Pilato has an immense capacity to love. And he has fallen in love with our town and its people. On Thursday he told me he was considering adding someone to the mural because she has been so good to him while he’s been here.
He’s heard all of the comments about who might have been included and has taken each to heart. And he’s already talking about including them in another downtown piece. His work here, his says, is far from finished.
For now, we get to enjoy what he has already accomplished.

Ed Ackerman