A roadside mural for times like these

I love walls.  I look at them close-up – the bits of paper   left from long-ago flyers and posters. The layers of battered paint and wood, making inadvertently perfect backdrops for passersby.

And the messages – the writing on the walls. (Hey, the expression came from somewhere.)

You never know where a wall with a message will turn up, and in what form, and how your thoughts might be changed — detoured —  by what you see.

The first message on the trailer. Not bad, and definitely memorable. (Photos by Jill Schensul)

Like here, in the middle of nowhere, near my home in the Hudson Valley, atop a hill sloping up from a two-lane road.

I first saw it more than a year ago. A semi-trailer turned wall. Framed by big pines and green folds of grass and wildflowers and that big blue puffy-clouded sky.

First time I saw it, I had to do a U’y and  return to sit in front of it. think about it, wonder about it (the message for sure, but also, well, who spelled/wrote like this).

But mainly, yeah, I did “rember.” Actually, at this stage of my life, I’ve been trying hard to keep remembering that time…

Anyway, for the ensuing months, whenever I passed  by that semi-wall it always made me smile – and remember.

Until last month.  When it was in the process of being eclipsed by  a much more eloquent, artistic and germane message for these times.

The mural as work in progress. (Photo by Jill Schensul)
The mural as work in progress; a poem by the artist’s brother Joseph Olsen would fill the white square. Below, Olsen worked on it for four months.        (Photos by Jill Schensul)

Peter Olsen was standing on the top step of a blue ladder in the heat of a June afternoon, carefully painting the finishing flourishes on the folds of a face mask being worn by a sad girl.P1000223

He’d been working on “20/20 Pandemic” for four months, he said, dipping white from a can on the ladder’s ledge. It was almost done now, he said. The last element, which would fill the empty white swath of semi on the left , was a contribution from his brother Joseph, who’d written a poem for the piece.

“I wanted to send an uplifting message to people passing by,” Olsen said, as he swigged water and squinted in the late-afternoon sun. He saw the potential for a canvas – a wall, rather – in the semi parked atop the hill along Route 94 in Salisbury Mills.

Poem by Joseph Olsen.    (Photos courtesy of the artist)

After first tracking down the owner of the property and the semi, then getting permission to use the trailer for a mural, he got the go-ahead.  And went about painting the 8-by-47-foot mural. 

teddybearmural - Copymuralpeacefist - CopyThis isn’t the most traveled road in the area,  but traffic did pass by. And, like me, people stopped to take in the art, and its message.

More and more of them, in fact.

One day recently I drove by to check out the poem on the finished mural, only to find it was …  gone.


Turned out it was a little too popular for its own good.

Well, for that particular location, in any case.

The property owner began to worry about traffic safety and having people traipsing on private property. and decided the wall, the semi, had to go.

Not go, of course, just not be shown in its original location.

Since then, Olsen has been looking for a new home for his mural. He said recently that he was close to finding one, in Newburgh.

So keep your eyes peeled.

You can follow the whereabouts of the mural and see more of Olsen’s artwork on Instagram, @Peter_G_Olsen_Artworks.

Oh, and if you’ve got a few spare acres and wouldn’t mind becoming an ersatz art gallery, or at least the site of an uplifting message in times like these, by all means get in touch.

#Covid_19 #love #masks #art #mural @Peter_G_Olsen_Artworks




Fireworks: Don’t let furry friends freak out

dreamstime_xxl_106224814 (1)Bet it’s already started in your neighborhood.

The BOOM of freedom. Or at least of the traditional day of permission to MAKE LOUD SOUNDS and to PLAY WITH FIRE AND EXPLOSIVES.

Apparently this is a blockbuster — or -boomer — year for fireworks. With COVID nixing so many public  fireworks displays, more private citizens have been taking  up the cause; sales of fireworks have hit record highs.

It’s July 4th, and coming up on the darkness, and the time of fireworks displays. Which — not “by the way” — your companion animals pretty much hate. Not only does it physically hurt their ears, but it’s a nonsequitor, a complete out-of-the-blue occurrence for them.

Our animals — you know, the ones we have grown to love and appreciate even more in these times of isolation and quarantine — pretty much hate  our Fourth of July celebration sounds.  If ever they6 were going to do their own canine, feline — maybe even avian or reptilian or piscine — form of WTF, it would be during 4th of July fireworks.

Simply put: a lot of them freak.

They may just hide under the bed. My dog Benji, a chihuahua and  — okay, a sort of crazy-fierce 4-pound spectacular creature who often tried to bite me — would actually jump in my lap, tongue unfurling like Dead Sea scrolls, Ren and Stimpy-esque —  in reaction to the noise.  Verlaine and Hilbert, my companions in Tucson, jumped right through  our bay windows, dragging the curtains out onto the lawn, among the shards of glass, just to  try to get away from the sound.

Belle, my current pup, is now nearly stone deaf, and this is the one time  of year I can say thank goodness for that.

As we hopefully know, better than ever, from COVID, we owe our buddies our respect and concern.

Here are some steps you need to take for your critters to be safe tonight, tomorrow — throughout this holiday weekend and beyond:

  •  Think sonic distancing. Keep them somewhere in your houses far from the real world BOOM-ing. Note that it’s not a good idea to  lock them up, either, in an unfamiliar room. Distance them further from the noise by turning on a TV  or radio to soften the scary noises from outside. 
  •  Even if your companion animal  is usually kept outside — an outdoor cat, say — bring them in tonight and maybe for the duration (this weekend?), according to advice from the Humane Society of the United States.
  •  If you are going out and have to bring your buddy with you, leash him or her. You know your pet’s proclivity for darting. …
  • In case of worst-case-scenario — make sure your companion animal is wearing her or his collar with ID tag.Remember, you can’t have a happy holiday if your best friend is miserable.  Remember to keep them safe — and enjoy!



#COVID, #Covid19 #animals #July4th #Fourth of July #pets #safety