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With mural, artist will share her passion for Bayville

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As two lifeguards chat, a little boy, pail in hand, looks toward the Long Island Sound, a masterfully created sandcastle nearby. A small tent displaying an American flag could belong to any of the bathers, who, while enjoying a dip, are also preparing for the water’s tranquillity to be briefly interrupted by a passing motor boat.

The rendering, a view of the beach from Centre Island looking west, was created by local artist Anna Laruccia. It captures Bayville perfectly, said Chris Pflaumer, a member of the village’s Centennial Committee. Living in Bayville is special, he added, something residents have known for 100 years.

Laruccia will recreate her rendering in October as a mural on the exterior wall of Bayville Meat Center, at the corner of Ludlum and Bayville avenues. The wall overlooks the Village Commons, a gathering place for residents.

“People will see it right as they come into town,” said Pflaumer, the excitement evident in his voice. “When tourists come here, they’ll see a mural that depicts a typical summer day in Bayville. Maybe they’ll even think of moving here.”

Laruccia asked her partner, artist Barbara Wendt Keller, to help her create the mural, in the interest of keeping the project even more local. The two graduated from Locust Valley High School in 1971 and have remained friends, despite the fact that Keller moved to West Palm Beach, Fla., in 2000.

They have worked together as recently as last year when they painted a mural in Manhattan’s Tribeca depicting classic fairy tales.

Traditional and modern paintings created by Laruccia line the walls of her home in Locust Valley, where she grew up. In the summers, she recalled, she spent her time at the beach in Bayville, which is an eight-minute walk away.

Her grandparents Angelo and Anna Erriquez owned two summer homes in Bayville, and four pieces of property there that they used only for gardening. Her roots in the village go way back, Laruccia said, showing the Herald Guardian a photo taken in 1946, of her grandparents sitting under grapevines in their backyard with a number of family members and friends.

“My grandparents invited many of their hometown friends from Italy to come and buy bungalows in Bayville, so they would all hang out together,” Laruccia explained. “The old-timers would gather at night under the grapevine and play Italian music, sing, dance, eat, drink homemade wine and party.”

She and her brother John would stay in Bayville with their grandparents in the summer months. Her parents, her sister Camille and her younger brother, Paul, stayed in their Locust Valley home, but visited Bayville on weekends.

“We all have the best memories of all our adventures in Bayville,” Laruccia said with a smile.

After graduating from high school, she moved to São Paulo, Brazil, and lived there from 1973 to 1977 while she studied at the Arstudium school and the School of Visual Arts. From 1975 to 1977 she spent six months at a time studying at the Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, and six months in Brazil. Then, from 1978 to 1986, she studied at the Stevenson Academy of Traditional Painting in Sea Cliff with Harold Stevenson, a master painter who at one time was a student of Norman Rockwell. And her art education continues: Laruccia is currently studying under Rob Zeller at the Teaching Studios of Art in Oyster Bay.

She had lived in a number of places, including Port Washington, before returning home 15 years ago to help her mother, Anita Erriquez-Laruccia, who became ill, and died in 2012. She has developed a reputation as a talented local artist.

When considering who would create what will be the only mural in the small beach community, the Bayville Centennial Committee wanted someone local. “We had different people out of the blue say that Anna was a local girl that does this type of artwork,” said Al Staab, a committee co-chair. “We saw what she did and really liked it.”

Her initial meeting with the members of the committee was in the Village Commons, where she will create the mural on a wall that measures 54 feet by 17 feet. That day, the committee members shared a few of the elements that they wanted in the mural, Laruccia recalled, including a lifeguard chair, lifeguards and the Sound.

She and Keller will begin their work early next month. In the meantime, the committee is having the meat store’s air conditioner, which protrudes through the wall, removed, and the surface primed.

It took Laruccia 20 hours to finish the 13 inches by 18 inches rendering. She predicts that it will take her and Keller two to three weeks to complete the scaled-up version.

“This is a great honor to be chosen,” she said, adding that she feels a personal connection to the project. “It was around 75 years ago that my grandfather found his Bayville paradise, which reminded him of his hometown, Polignano a Mare, in Southern Italy. I do love Bayville’s beaches.”