With a cut of the red ribbon, the new mural commemorating Freeport’s history became a fixture to add to the village’s charm on April 11. The Long Island Arts Council at Freeport undertook the project after winning an AARP Community Challenge Grant last fall.
In addition to the grant, the arts council, Mount Sinai South Nassau Communities Hospital and a GoFundMe campaign collected additional funds for the mural.
“South Nassau is proud to sponsor the Village of Freeport and the Long Island Arts Council at Freeport on the mural arts project,” said Dana Sanneman, of South Nassau. “This important community partnership is a valuable part of our community, and demonstrates our shared commitment to art and art education and advocacy in our community.”
The council, with the support of the Freeport Memorial Library board of trustees, decided that the blank wall to the left of the library’s main entrance would be perfect for the new art.
“Art is important for many reasons,” said Laurence Dresner, director of the Long Island Council of the Arts. “It elicits a visceral reaction when words alone often cannot. What more perfect place than to have it at the library?”
After hosting an open call for mural proposals, the council chose Ji Yong Kim, an artist originally from South Korea who resides in Brooklyn, to paint an “Ode to Freeport.” Kim is also an adjunct professor at Nassau County Community College and Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey. His works range from video to mixed media. He is also artist-in-residence at ChaShaMa in Brooklyn.
Kim’s interpretation of village history, he said, captured all of the elements that have made Freeport what it is today. At first glance, the mural is a massive boat with flags that read, “ The Heart of the Sunrise Trial” and “The Boating and Fishing Capital of the East.”
The Freeport Herald Leader helped sponsor a mural-naming contest. At a council meeting, Caleb Holin, 10, a fifth-grader at Atkinson Intermediate School, said the mural must include boats. That’s when, Dresner said, “Sailing Through History” was proposed, which became “Sailing Through Freeport’s History.”
Kim said he wanted the mural to be interactive and playful. Exploring his idea, he painted the mural similar to the late 1980s-1990s video game “Donkey Kong,” and like the video game, the mural became a boat that had ladders and barrels. Some of the landmarks included Freeport’s second bank, the Crystal Lake Hotel, the library, the Moser Building and more. Kim painted the mural over two months.
“I hope the Freeport community can enjoy this for many years to come,” Kim said. “I’m happy that I contributed something to this village.”
On the afternoon of the ribbon-cutting, the library held a history workshop for fourth-graders from New Visions School who also attended the event.
“We are so excited and proud to be able to present to our community a beautiful mural that celebrates the rich, varied and diverse history,” said Ken Bellafiore, the library’s director.