Claremont Avenue Artist Returns


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When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted last year, Alex Cook paused his work as a cross-country muralist and took refuge in the home of his the fiancé (now wife) at 170 Claremont Avenue. He wanted to continue to use his art to help counter the anxiety that was descending on Verona, and the world, but all he had for a “canvas” was an old ping-pong table.

Over nine weeks, Cook painted and repainted that wood to make a somewhat smaller version of a public message about well-being that he had painted all over the country, “You Are Loved.” He then used materials he found around the home to create a series of lawn sculptures. Cook took photos of every piece, and put it all together in a time-lapse video that you can watch here. And then, in September, Cook and his wife moved to his base in Boston.

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Yesterday, however, Cook was back on the lawn at 170 Claremont and he has a new message for Verona: Dig deep.

“I wanted to make a message that people would feel,” Cook said last night. “In this moment when we thought that the pandemic was coming to a close and now find out that it may not be, it felt important to reaffirm my commitment to staying active, positive, and progressive.

“When things are difficult it often requires us to dig deeper than we have before to find the resources we need,” he added. “As always, I like to take the role of reminding people of the simple, basic thoughts that feel healing and grounding.”

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Now back in Verona, she contributes to a variety of publications and Web sites, and consults on social media. In Verona, she serves on the Verona Environmental Commission and HBW SCA, and has been part of many other civic and religious groups in town. A graduate of Rutgers University’s Environmental Stewards program, she has also run an after-school program on the environment for elementary school children here. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]


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