Wall behind famous Wildwood mural in need of repair; future of painting in question

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Future of famous Wildwood mural in question: Vernon Odom reports on Action News at 6 p.m., May 8, 2018 (WPVI)

In the heart of Wildwood, New Jersey craftsmen from Ireland continue repair work on the outer walls of an old cinderblock building at Ocean and Garfield streets.

The building, constructed in the 1920's, has been weakened by years of ocean weather.

The wall is special, as it features a public marine mural painted by internationally renowned environmental artist Wyland.

Finished in 1993, it is the 43rd of 100 life-sized murals he completed from 1981 to 2008.

"Wayland walls around the world have always been something that has been treasured," said Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano. "We put it on this wall knowing that one day it was to be somewhat of a problem."

But much of Wyland's "Humpbacks off the Jersey Coast" had to be power-washed and therefore sacrificed this week, to repair the structure on which it is painted.

With the building's new owners in agreement, the local arts foundation has a comprehensive plan to maintain the look of the original 220 foot wide by 30-foot high wall.

"We're definitely going to be saving the middle whale and the mama and baby whale," said Russell Simmons of the Wildwood Arts Foundation. "The arts foundation is going recover that painting, redo it and save that portion of it."

And the artists plan to ultimately add some local touches of their own when the complete the entire wall.

"We may be able to add some more elements of Wildwood as well," said Simmons.

So much of Wyland's original work is now disappearing in the name of building stability and safety, but Wildwood's movers and shakers are determined to maintain as much of the character, integrity and spirit of the master's art as possible.

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