Maria Remembers: The city is alive with color and spirit

Maria Capolarella-Montante Maria Remembers

Driving through Pittston lifts my spirit. As my eyes observe the vibrant colors in the surrounding paintings, my head and heart swell with pride.

A few weeks ago, on a beautiful October morning with the sun shining brilliantly and the temperature in the 70s, it was like coming home when I sat at the Pittston Farmers Market as a participant. Sitting in the sunshine selling raffle tickets for the Friends of the Pittston Memorial Library gave me the opportunity to greet old friends and converse with supporters. Most of the comments were about the City of Pittston and how beautiful it has become and the Inspiration Mural, clearly visible from the market.

That afternoon, Attorney Rose Randazzo, the volunteer Main Street Manager and one of the key figures motivating the art project, stopped by and I informed her of all the positive comments. Rose explained her committee is striving to establish Pittston as an art city. “To be an art city,” she explained, “all types of art must be included. The mural ‘Inspiration’ painted by Michael Pilato, an artist from Penn State, is an architectural and mural painting.”

Michael has endeared himself to the people of Pittston with his style of painting, his friendliness to all who stopped to talk to him and the likeness of all he painted. He leaves a legacy of remembrance people see daily and are in awe.

While we spoke, Christian Mendez, an artist from Florida, painted on the Boden building, creating street art mimicking the famous graffiti painter Jean Micheal Bissquiat whose work is seen throughout New York City.

Christian researched the area’s history and was fascinated by the coal-mining era. He was especially moved by the Knox Mine disaster that occurred in 1959 and on which he has based his painting. Seen in the painting is the number 63, denoting the 63 cents paid to the breaker boys per day for a 12-hour shift; a canary that was a barometer for air quality in the mines; and 12 coal cars with the names of the 12 miners who lost their lives in that disaster. Look at the vivid colors closely and you may interpret other occurrences of the tragedy.

Rose pointed out the painting of the smashed tomatoes is pop art, along with the planets on the Tomato Bar building. Masterpieces of the Renaissance period have been recreated as door art. The late Kevin McGroaty painted the Mona Lisa seen on the Joyce Insurance building. Nick Malasto of NEPA Tattoos selected to recreate paintings created by Caravaggio, a highly-trained Italian artist who assisted Michaelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel. Nick’s creations can be seen on Dr. Falcone’s door on North Main Street and the other at the drive-thru of the Landmark Bank.

Currently, Leigh Pawling, an artist from the Wilkes-Barre area inspired by the peaceful setting of the grotto devoted to the Blessed Mother on North Main Street, is creating a traditional work of art that, at first glance, might be Eve in the Garden of Eden. It is Leigh’s intent to enhance quietness and provide solitude for those who stop to contemplate or pray.

Pink, pink, pink!

From the first day of October to the end of October from South Main Street to North Main Street, we are surrounded and embraced in pink ribbons and flowers, painted on storefront windows. So alive and heartwarming, not only for the color, but for what they represent — support for a breast cancer cure. Paint Pittston Pink, a project organized by cancer survivor Barbara Sciandra, was met with huge success. For two weeks, the city was alive with planned activities and countless supporters donning the color pink.

Applause for the gentlemen who were draped in pink boas, wore pink wigs and dashed in pink high heels to “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes:” Ed Ackerman, John Adonizio Michael Callahan, Patrick Cosgrove, Jay Duffy, Jarrett Fernetino, Marty Jordan, Russell Keeler, Luke Matthews, Dr. Chris Sanders, Sal Sciandra (Barbara’s husband), Brian Stahl and Nick Wagner.

Business in color

Do you believe in signs? Here are a few that are clever and appropriately attached to downtown business establishments:

• A pair of shears identifies Virginia DeSpirito’s Beauty Salon

• A movie marquee introduces Boden’s

• A knife and fork indicates Callahan’s is a place to eat

• A tooth welcomes patrons to Pittston Dental

• A slice of pizza invites you to Napoli’s

• A guitar welcomes music lovers to the Pittston Music Store

• A crocheted Purple Squirrel embraces a traffic sign in front of the bake shop

• A colonial oval sign beckons antique lovers to the Yore Antique Store

• A Pallazo neon sign lights the way of welcome

• A champagne glass tips the Tomato Bar

The paintings and artwork done on the tattoo parlor have been created by the proprietor and artist Nick Malasto.

If that isn’t enough color, Brian Matyalevich, a member of the Pittston Parks and Recreation Committee, has initiated the program “Arts on Fire” with the intent to paint fire hydrants in the city. The hydrants will have a theme to coincide with the organization, business or individual that selects them. Brian states, “We are the new art city so we will commission artists to paint them.”

Mother Nature was not to be outdone with color as she blanketed the valley in brilliant colors with the changing of the leaves. Shades of maroon dominated the mountains as they went from maroon to various shades of red into pinks. Our mountains were a gorgeous sight — a reminder of God’s wonder.

Color your world and lift your spirits with a drive down Main Street in Pittston.

Maria Capolarella-Montante Maria Remembers Capolarella-Montante Maria Remembers

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at

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