Students in Foundation Academy’s Advanced Placement art/portfolio class were chosen to paint this year’s holiday mural for Vintage Realty Group in downtown Windermere.
Around this time each year, a little slice of holiday cheer comes to downtown Windermere in the form of a mural.
It’s an annual tradition started by Darrell and Michele Nunnelley, who own Vintage Realty Group on Main Street in Windermere. Years ago, they began inviting different school groups to participate in painting a temporary holiday mural on the side of their building. When the mural is complete each year, the Nunnelleys make a financial donation to the school’s art department.
Many West Orange-area schools have participated in the past, including Dr. Phillips High and The First Academy. This year, it was Foundation Academy’s turn.
On Saturday, Nov. 14, five Advanced Placement art/portfolio students at the school — along with instructor Janelle Bell-Martin — showed up with paint and brushes in hand, ready and excited to begin bringing this year’s scene to life. Participating students were Dallas Armstrong, Sarah Ford, Isabella Gennaro, Ella Kline and Landry Wolverton.
“I know that (Vintage Realty) likes to get (the mural) up early, because people use it as a background for Christmas cards,” Bell-Martin said. “So with that in mind, we were thrilled to jump on it — and we had amazing weather, so we’re thankful for that. It goes further for us. We have a Fine Arts League at Foundation Academy, and they provided us with the scaffolding, so there’s a lot of people helping.”
This marks the first year Foundation Academy students got the chance to show off their creativity. Vintage Realty Group chooses the design, and students are tasked with making it happen.
Bell-Martin said she and a few of the students arrived the night before painting to use a projector and trace this year’s design on the side of the building — a task that took about two hours. This year’s theme is “Peace on Earth.”
“We were ready to do it,” Bell-Martin said. “We tried to get it last year and The First Academy had it, so this year, we were thankful to be able to get out here. We love the message that it’s bringing this year. The company, they chose the artwork and the message that they wanted, and they asked us if we would be able to put it up here, and we did. … They do this for the schools, and the girls also get hours for community service, too, as well as the experience of coming out and doing this.”
Foundation Academy junior Isabella Gennaro couldn’t have been more excited to exercise her creative skills. Her love for visual arts is what encouraged her to enroll in the advanced art class in the first place.
“I’ve always really enjoyed artistic activities ever since I was little, especially painting and drawing, even stuff like ceramics,” the 16-year-old said. “I just felt like I had a call to be in the class. I love the teacher and I love the students, so it’s been really nice to experience getting to practice more. … Mostly, we’ve been working on smaller-scale projects with acrylic paint.”
Isabella and her friends, as well as Bell-Martin, worked for hours on filling in the mural. Using exterior house paint, they began with the red base color before working on the details — including lettering and silhouettes of buildings, people and animals.
The girls’ work was the talk of the town, and some people drove by multiple times to watch their progress. The group earned many compliments and honks of support from passersby.
“Overall, people have been really friendly and really nice, just complimenting it, saying hi, and saying, ‘Oh it looks great!’ which is really encouraging,” Isabella said. “Just getting to spend time with my classmates and do something as a whole has been really nice to bond with them.”
“I without a doubt know that they are a great group, and I’ve had them in years past, so without even flinching I was like, ‘They can do it,’” Bell-Martin said. “They’re talented, they get along so well, they work together well, and communication is great with them. It’s a nice group.”
Those interested in seeing the mural or taking pictures in front of it can view it on the side of Vintage Realty Group’s office through the New Year.