Pictured from left are Eric Stroup, Chautauqua Mall security director; Jennifer Ditchman, Chautauqua Mall office administrator; Jason Kopta, mall maintenance technician; Correy Miller, m operations supervisor; Julie Bihler, mall general manager; Gary Peters Sr.; Gary Peters Jr.; Jeff Swanson, code enforcement officer; Mayor Randy Holcomb; trustee Rich Fischer, and James Feldman.
P-J photos by Katrina Fuller

LAKEWOOD — Chautauqua Mall’s vibrant Chautauqua County-themed mural has officially been signed its artists.

Gary Peters Jr. and his father, Gary Peters Sr., joined mall and public officials to sign the completed project, the last step in the process.

Lakewood Mayor Randy Holcomb; Julie Bihler, Chautauqua Mall general manager; Jeff Swanson, village of Lakewood Code Enforcement officer; Rich Fischer, village of Lakewood trustee; and James Feldman, assistant to the Chautauqua County executive, were on hand to celebrate the occasion.

Both father and son held the stencil and put their name to the artwork they worked together to create. The pair have completed various murals throughout the city, Peters Jr. said. He said he worked with the staff at the mall to find photo references to highlight the beauty of Chautauqua County.

The process took a year, though it was spaced out throughout that time due to weather and construction constraints with Ollie’s Bargain Outlet working on that side of the facility.

“Public art is a weird thing — it’s kind of up there for everybody,” Peters Jr. said. “And that’s what I like about it, it’s not really where you’d expect to find art. It’s on the side of a building — I like that aspect of it.”

Peters Jr. said a lot of the ideas for his mural come from the organizations who desire his artwork. With the downtown murals, the Lucille Ball designs were a “no brainer,” he added. If an idea is presented that doesn’t work with the building shape, he and his father will come up with a more suitable idea.

“I’d like to thank the county for their great amenities because here it is — most of it’s up there on the wall. We have a wonderful county, and we’re grateful to be a part of the county. This is a tribute. I want to thank the artists — Gary Peters, Jr. and his father, Gary Peters, Sr. It’s been a year in the process and weather dependent because it’s on the exterior. It’s exactly what we envisioned and I’m so proud to have it here at the mall.”

Holcomb said the village values the mural and he is excited to have it located in Lakewood.

“I think it will mean a great deal to the village, the county and surrounding communities, especially because it has areas of the whole county in the mural itself,” he said. “I’d just like to say people driving down Fairmount Avenue who look at it and see the word ‘Chautauqua’ need to drive up and look at every panel because it is absolutely stunning.”

The mural is located on the wall facing Fairmount Avenue behind Taco Bell. Various scenes from throughout the area are featured, including a dock scene from Burtis Bay, Chautauqua Institution and the clocktower in Lakewood.

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