The artist behind a East Main Street mural that may be removed as part of new construction is now fighting back.
Huntington resident Caitlyn Shea launched a Facebook group Saturday called “Save the Hummingbird Mural.” Since then, the group has more than 170 members.
Last summer, Ms. Shea painted the mural — titled “The Garden Party” — on the side of 307 East Main St. as part of the inaugural JumpstART program. She spent more than 200 hours creating the artwork, she told a northforker.com reporter at the time.
A new owner, Jason Gamba of Garden City, has since purchased the property and submitted a proposal to renovate it. The second floor of the structure will become an apartment and the first floor may become a restaurant or a store.
Ms. Shea said she was “definitely aware” that a new owner could opt to remove the mural, but has not yet heard a compelling reason.
“I understand the owner is within his rights to do whatever he wants, but I want him to address why he can’t keep it.”
Ms. Shea told the News-Review she hopes she can reach some kind of compromise with the owner. Perhaps, she said, the business could profit from T-shirts bearing the hummingbird design.
But at this point, she said she wants communication more than anything.
“I’ve given [the architect] my contact information a few times, and I’ve called the architect and left a message, but I haven’t heard back,” she said.
Neither Mr. Gamba nor the architect behind the plans, Chuck Thomas, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
On Friday, Mr. Thomas told the Riverhead Town Board that renovations would include removing the mural and altering the facade.
While some board members expressed admiration for the mural — Town Supervisor Sean Walter said “I love the hummingbirds” during Friday’s work session — the remodeling plans are small enough that no public hearing is needed.
The Town Board will vote on the proposal Tuesday.
Ms. Shea has posted on the Facebook page several times imploring others to contact elected officials in support of maintaining the mural.
“As with anything that goes on locally, people have the power to promote change,” she wrote.
Photo Caption: Huntington resident Caitlyn Shea (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)