Painting the town red

First Posted: 8/7/2013

Dwight Kirkland, part of the team behind the massive Heritage Mural on the Pittston Dental building, is creating a new masterpiece for the downtown.

Kirkland, of Black Leaf Studio in Mifflintown, is working on a tomato mural on the upper side of the Tropical Dreams building. The mural is expected to be complete by the opening of the 30th annual Pittston Tomato Festival set for Thursday.

Kirkland said the mural that he designed will depict several massive smashed red tomatoes on a green background.

The piece is untitled, but Mike Lombardo of the city’s Redevelopment Authority, said has been referring to the mural as “Ultomato.”

“It’s a whimsical run on giving someone an ultimatum,” Lombardo said. “Our ultimatum in Pittston will be an ‘ultomato,’ which is that art is going to be a major part of the revitalization effort downtown.”

Kirkland said he uses a digital projector to project the image on the wall and he’ll sketch it out. Once that’s done he’ll fill everything in. When it’s done, about 20 gallons of paint will have been used.

Black Leaf Studio specializes in award-winning murals, original fine art and illustrations, and is featured in galleries, distinguished homes and in all types of corporate advertising and marketing in the United States and abroad, according to the artist’s website.

The new mural is being paid for by funds from the state Local Share Assessment that come from casino proceeds and the city’s Facade Enhancement Program. The cost is about $10,00o.

More than 50,000 people will have the opportunity to view the mural as they pack the downtown for the Tomato Festival.

The festival runs from Thursday, Aug. 15 to Sunday, Aug. 18.

The festival features a plethora of homemade American and ethnic food, live entertainment, a gala parade, a 5K run, games, rides, beer and, of course, home-grown Pittston tomatoes.

The festival’s opening ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. at the city’s new bandstand followed by live entertainment by Windfall, Phyllis Hopkins and The Idol Kings: A Tribute to John Cougar and Journey.

The festival continues on Friday with performances by Danny Argo and Friends, The Jeanne Zano Band and Sweet Pepper and the Long Hots.

Saturday’s features are the the Tomato Parade, the 5K run, the Tomato Fights, Tomato Festival Queen Scholarship Pageant, Groove Train, The Paci Band, Jordan Tarter, Fake Uncle Jack, K8 and Flaxy Morgan. The Tomato Contest will feature the largest, smallest, ugliest and most perfect tomato.

Registration for the 15th annual Pittston Tomato Festival 5K Run, sponsored by Geisinger, is set for 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Greater Pittston YMCA.

Sunday will feature the Little Miss & Little Mr. Tomato Contest, Stanky and The Coalminers, The Sperazza Band, Dave Joyce, The Poets and Somethin’ Else.

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