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Village's old school oak tree painting completed

Marie Havenga • Sep 20, 2018 at 12:00 PM

SPRING LAKE — The painting that the Village of Spring Lake commissioned to memorialize an old oak tree is finished, but now the question remains: Where to permanently display it?

The tree was cut down from in front of Spring Lake Intermediate School in August.

When it became clear last summer that the 150-plus-year-old tree was in declining health after Spring Lake school officials constructed a new drop-off lane for the school near the oak’s trunk in 2015, Village Council reluctantly voted to remove the tree so that dead limbs wouldn't potentially cause danger to humans. Council later commissioned local artist Aziza Abbasi to create a painting of the tree at a cost of $800.

Village Council members thought the Spring Lake District Library would be an ideal spot to hang the painting and asked Village Manager Chris Burns to inquire.

“The library is open longer hours and has a lot more foot traffic (than Village Hall),” Burns said last week. “It'd be a shame to hang it here at Village Hall where it wouldn't be as exposed to the public. Art is meant to be appreciated.”

On Wednesday, Spring Lake District Library Director Claire Sheridan said there just isn't room for it at the library.

“The painting is a lovely memorial of the oak tree,” she said. “But with the art that the library already has on the walls, there isn't a very good location for the 3-by-4-foot painting of the oak tree. A couple of suggestions for other locations from library board members were the school or the Tri-Cities (Historical) Museum.”

Burns said once they got word that the library would not house the painting, they hung it on a wall on the second floor of Village Hall.

“It's up here hanging above the couch,” Burns said. “It looks great. I'll share this with council. They may just decide to leave it here at Village Hall, I don't know. I think it would have seen a lot more traffic (at the library) and would have been appreciated more than here on the second floor, but that's their (library's) decision and I understand that. It's a lovely painting. We would love to have more people be able to see it.”

Burns said anyone who wants to view the painting may come to Village Hall during regular business hours and someone will take them up to see it.

Later this fall, people will be able to purchase note cards and prints of the painting.

Abbasi had several local children pose by the tree early last month. It took her about four weeks to complete the oil painting.

“I spent 3-4 hours on it every day,” she said. “I looked at pictures and looked up how the oak tree leaves should look. The shadows which are above the children are more like symbolism of the tree giving positive energy to the children.”

Abbasi, who is from Pakistan and moved here in 2001, also included the American flag in her painting.

“I think that flying high — that is America,” she said. “It represents country and that is the most important thing.”

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