WILKES-BARRE — Sugarloaf Mountain, the pyramid-like landmark of the Conyngham Valley, will be the latest piece of nature featured during a free children’s mural painting event on Sunday organized by lawyer Jan Lokuta.
Children will have the opportunity to paint the Sugarloaf Mountain mural beginning at 1 p.m at Nescopeck State Park, located along Honey Hole Road, near Drums.
Lokuta’s passion for art began in the late 1970s. Before he went to law school at Dickinson, he worked with children. To keep them busy on rainy days he would create an outline of figures on a large piece of butcher paper, tape it on the wall and have the children color in the figures.
He was inspired by French artist Henri Matisse, who used large, simple forms to which kids often are drawn. “It is simple, it is colorful and it is pleasing,” Lokuta said of Matisse’s work.
Lokuta, a Wyoming Valley native, started organizing mural painting events for children in 2008 at Wilkes-Barre RiverFest — the first year there was an emphasis on art and how it is connected to the outdoors. That year, Sue Hand and three other artists painted landscapes.
Now that Lokuta is a practicing lawyer, he said he uses art as a way to counterbalance the stress that comes with his profession. Matisse was also a lawyer before finding his niche in art.
Since 2008, Lokuta has organized mural painting events for children in Wilkes-Barre, Pittston, West Pittston and Berwick. He continues to organize these events for kids so they can get outside, appreciate nature and “be involved in an activity where they are creating something,” he said.
Rather than being inspired by specific works of art, this mural was inspired by the Hudson River School, a group of artists who aimed to capture beauty and serenity. “They tried to emphasize the grandeur of the American landscape,” Lokuta said.
The mural will be on a 4-foot-by-5-foot panel. Sunday’s event will be the first of two art projects held this summer at the state park.
The second project, set for Aug. 31, is designed for children ages 10 and older. It will be “plein air painting,” during which children will pick something in the park and paint it.
No experience is needed and all supplies will be provided. Registration is mandatory. Call the Nescopeck State Park office at 570-403-2006.