It’s not “LOVE.”
Artist Christiana Galbiati placed an exclamation point before the love that she sent out to her community through a mural on a wall of Hazleton One Community Center.
A point of punctuation at the beginning is unexpected, she says, and highlights the mural’s message.
“We need to really see each other and connect, and that word — Love — is universal. I just wanted to put the focus on that word,” Galbiati said.
The mural at the center, 225 E. Fourth St., faces the playground, where Galbiati hopes it will make people pause, especially children at play.
“I want the viewer to have that feeling of love and stop and think what that word means and hopefully procure a more friendly, a more unified existence … We need to really prepare a more friendly environment, no matter what our views are, and that also begins with young children,” Galbiati said.
The !LOVE mural is her second at the center. Two years ago she painted a mural that welcomes visitors as they enter the elevator. It illustrated a quote from Maya Angelou: “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
Words matter in the art of Galbiati, a West Hazleton resident who studied graphic design at Kutztown University and worked in advertising before earning a Master of Fine Arts Degree from Marywood University. She now teaches at Penn State-Lehigh Valley and Moravian College. The block letters on the !LOVE mural continued a style of lettering that she superimposed over a collage of quotes for a four-woman exhibit this year at the Artists for Art Gallery in Scranton.
Elaine Curry, secretary of the Hazleton One center’s board, said Galbiati launched an art project that has spread around the center, which now has 10 murals by various designers.
“Art has no language. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, you can appreciate the beauty of art,” Curry said.
Next, Galbiati plans to add more murals outside the center.
To paint the !LOVE mural, she began by brushing a white rectangle on the brick wall.
The rough, indented surface led her to change designs. Initially, she wanted a rainbow to arch over a heart in which letters “L,” “O,” “V” and “E” randomly filled the interior.
“That brick is pretty deep, not a smooth surface. I didn’t feel a rainbow was going to come across,” which Galbiati said she realized after painting the heart.
The heart became an “O “ in her !LOVE mural. On either side of the heart, she and assistant Dylan Riofrio taped the outlines of the “L, V, E” and exclamation point on the wall.
Inside large letters, they spray painted love’s letters in the colors and styles of a toddler’s alphabet blocks. Blocks overlap to show unity, and the assorted colors convey diversity.
Riofio, a sophomore in the Arts and Humanities Academy within Hazleton Area High School, said he and Galbiati, after pausing on windy days, needed about a week to complete the mural.
“Now that the mural is done, it looks amazing. It brings up the mood, basically,” he said.
Riofrio said he would like to help Galbiati on her next murals, and he has already participated in one other piece of public art.
Four years ago, Mary Veronica Sweeney selected Riofrio as one of the children whose faces she painted into a mural on a wall at Hazle Drugs.
Back at the Hazleton One center, Galbiati said her biggest joy from the !LOVE mural will come as more people see it.
“We must reconnect, listen and work together. Share good energy, positive vibes all the way!” she wrote in a synopsis of the mural. “LOVE will do this. LOVE MUST do this!”
Even after three decades as a reporter at the Standard-Speaker, Kent Jackson still enjoys meeting people, learning more about the community and sharing stories with readers. He currently covers schools but has reported on local government, health, police and the environment. Regularly, he writes about outdoor sports, wildlife and conservation for the Wildlife page on Sundays. Contact: 570-455-3636; email@example.com