Reporting Aside

January 5

Waterville post office painting tells more than one story

Mural of Waterville Post Office, Two-Cent Bridge over the Kennebec River and Fort Halifax in Winslow also represents the impact of teacher on Winslow art student.

It’s true that teachers may never know the long-term impact they have on their students.

click image to enlarge

BIG SCENE: Shannon Sadulsky, 43, of Limerick, painted this huge painting inside the Waterville Post Office when she was a senior at Winslow High School.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

That fact became abundantly clear to me Thursday night as I interviewed Shannon Sadulsky, a 1988 graduate of Winslow High School.

Now 43, Sadulsky lives in the town of Limerick, in southern Maine, where she is a freelance artist, illustrator and photographer.

She has never forgotten her high school art teacher, John Rollins, whom she credits for encouraging her and persuading her to attend a good college and pursue her dream of being an artist.

Though she has not spoken to him in many years, he is very much a part of her psyche as she goes about her daily work.

“It was his influence that pushed me to go to Parsons School of Design in New York,” she said. “He was a great teacher.”

My interview with Sadulsky came about after I stood in line at the Waterville Post Office Thursday morning.

It was a longer wait than usual and as I watched the postal workers in the back room, I thought about how nice it is that some things haven’t changed, like the old-fashioned setting and the very large, 4-by-16-foot painting on the wall behind the counter. You know the one I mean. You can’t miss it, it is so huge and covers nearly the entire wall.

The painting depicts the Waterville post office, Two-Cent Bridge over the Kennebec River and Fort Halifax in Winslow. It is a conceptual rather than an actual representation of the distance between the post office and fort, and the work, in the lower left-hand corner, is signed “Shannon Sadulsky, Winslow Art Student.”

I had seen the painting many times before and wondered about it. This time, when I got to the counter, I asked the clerk how long it had been there and if he knew the story behind it. The painting, he said, was there before he arrived in the late 1980s, and he knew only that the person who painted it was a commercial artist living in the Portland area.

Later, at my office, I searched Sadulsky’s name on the Internet, found her website, www.sadulskyart.com, and sent her a Facebook message. I said I was interested in writing a column about how she came to create the painting and what she is doing now. I tried to reach Rollins, her former teacher, but was unsuccessful. Those who know him say he winters in Florida.

But Sadulsky called me Thursday evening. She explained she is an artist who does textile design, illustration, screen printing, abstract painting, jewelry design, stone carving and commercial photography.

In 1988, when she was a senior at Winslow High School, the Waterville postmaster contacted Rollins to see if someone would do a painting for the post office, she said. Rollins offered the project to Sadulsky, who readily accepted.

“I started working on it at school with another girl who was unable to continue, so I ended up doing it myself,” Sadulsky said. “I brought it home with me, and I was working on my portfolio for Parsons at the same time. I finished the painting probably a month before I went to college. I remember Mr. Rollins being a little stressed out about that.”

She recalled being given specific direction about the subject of the painting.

“They told me exactly what to paint. They wanted it to reflect the goodwill between Waterville and Winslow, with the Two-Cent Bridge in the middle, the post office on the left and the fort on the right. I used Masonite board and house paint. That’s what they gave me. I was using a fan because I was really, really hurrying. I’d put on layers of paint, basically, and I was drying them as quickly as I could.”

(Continued on page 2)

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