New mural graces school

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Unveiling Tuesday of a mural commissioned by Jamie Figenbaum (right) to honor her parents, Alfred and Maud Figenbaum. It was painted by artist Catherine Brigham and hangs in the Shelter Island Elementary School wing.

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO
Unveiling Tuesday of a mural commissioned by Jamie Figenbaum (right) to honor her parents, Alfred and Maud Figenbaum. It was painted by artist Catherine Brigham and hangs in the Shelter Island Elementary School wing.

Jamie Figenbaum loves Shelter Island.

So did her parents, Alfred and Maud Figenbaum, who were married here many years ago and brought her to the Island when she was only four. That’s why she wanted to offer the students of Shelter Island a lasting memory by commissioning a mural that artist Catherine Brigham created for the elementary school wing.

Ms. Brigham calls the mural “Landscapes of A Shared Experience,” and it depicts several sites throughout the Island, some chosen by Ms. Figenbaum, others by the students.

For 40 years, the Figenbaum family sponsored a scholarship given to a Shelter Island graduating senior. But Ms. Figenbaum said that when the effort started, there were few scholarships available and amounts were low.

Now there are many more sources of money and with the escalating costs of higher education, the awards have increased in size.

She recalled the first year she had to climb the stairs to the school stage to present a check to the scholarship winner. At that time, there were no railings and the steps were steep, Ms. Figenbaum said.

She got up, presented the check and debated the best way down without landing on her face.

That meant either sitting on the stairs and sliding down or taking off her red shoes to walk down. She opted to lose the shoes, she told the students, to their delight.

She opted to replace the scholarship this year with the mural in the hope that it would please the students who would come to have their own personal memories of growing up here.

Among the places depicted in the mural is the Pridwin where Ms. Figenbaum’s parents honeymooned many years ago.

Her dad, Alfred Figenbaum, was a professional musician, so the mural also has a ukulele and harmonica, instruments he played. Her mother was a movie double for actress Gloria Swanson.

Students were quick to pick up on an ice cream cone in the left-hand bottom of the mural meant to honor the Tuck Shop. It was named after a place in England where sweets were shipped in what are called Tuck hampers, Ms. Figenbaum said.

Still another picture is of the Perlman Music Program center and in the center of the mural, there’s a South Ferry boat.

“Shelter Island has meant so much to me during my lifetime, Ms. Figenbaum said. “I hope that the Island means as much to you as it means to me,” she told the students.

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