The temperature was 37 degrees in Bayville last Saturday, but a mural depicting a day at one of the village’s beaches made the chill tolerable. A large group of residents gathered in Bayville Village Commons, barely able to contain their excitement as they waited for a ribbon- cutting to celebrate what’s being called the Bayville Centennial Mural.
Several celebrations commemorated Bayville’s 100th birthday this year. The ribbon-cutting for the mural was the final one, which Mayor Bob De Natale said was fitting.
“Today’s dedication of this mural leaves us with a reminder for years to come,” the mayor said, “of how privileged we are to live in Bayville.”
The location for the mural — the exterior wall of the Bayville Meat Center, at the corner of Ludlum and Bayville avenues — was chosen by the Bayville Centennial Committee because it overlooks the commons, a gathering place for residents that visitors can’t help noticing as they enter the village.
When considering who would create what would be the only mural in the small beach community, the committee wanted to choose someone local. “We interviewed several artists,” said Chris Pflaumer, a member of the committee, “but no one nailed it like Anna [Laruccia] and Barbara [Wendt-Keller].”
Laruccia, an artist living in Locust Valley, created the rendering, a summer day at the beach from Centre Island looking west. Then she asked her partner, Barbara Wendt-Keller, to assist her in painting the mural. Both are 1971 Locust Valley High School graduates, although Wendt-Keller moved to West Palm Beach in 2000. But she returns to her hometown to work with Laruccia, who is also a friend. They worked together last year painting a mural of classic fairy tales in Manhattan’s Tribeca.
They began working on the centennial mural in October. Wendt-Keller said it took 207 hours to complete, a bit longer than expected, due to several days of rain.
Gathering in front of the mural, several Bayvillites speculated on who its human subjects might be, some even saying they were certain of the identity of a few. Laruccia and Wendt-Keller said that at least some of their subjects were family members, and others were friends. The three female swimmers, Laruccia said, are her mother, Anita, in the purple bathing cap; Helen Webbe, wearing the yellow cap; and Wendt-Keller’s mother, Dolly, in the green bathing suit.
The two people sitting under the umbrella were there on Saturday — Laruccia’s godchild, Roberta Olstein, and her husband, Roger, who live in Bayville. Roger helped with the mural, applying the final coat — a protector, so it will withstand the elements.
Others lent a hand with the production. Pricila Modesto, of Brooklyn, painted the birds and Deborah Webbe, of Bayville, the daughter of the swimmer, painted the roses.
Laruccia said she couldn’t be happier with how the mural turned out and the response she has received from residents. “We’ve had such positive comments,” she said. “It adds color, and people say it looks just like Bayville.”