Rochester Memorial dedicates school’s mural

Apr 7, 2019

ROCHESTER — Since June 2018 students, faculty and staff have been able to enjoy a large poppy mural, painted by muralist and tattoo artist, Todd Woodward. On April 5, the school dedicated the mural to Diane Lagasse, the school’s administrative assistant and the “heart of the school” for more than 15 years until she retired at the end of last year. 

The school commissioned the mural with a grant from the Rochester Cultural Council because poppies are Lagasse’s favorite flower. 

Woodward, or “Woodz,” is currently based in Brooklyn but grew up in New Bedford. He has been drawing on walls since the age of six. More recently, he has painted murals on New Bedford’s Acushnet Avenue and Nash Road. 

Unknown to school administrators, Lagasse has a personal connection with the artist, as he used to play with her son when the two were children. 

Joanne Smith, the school’s art teacher, had fifteen students in grades Kindergarten to fifth grade hand-make and paint ceramic poppies representing Lagasse’s tenure at the school. The ceramic flowers were placed along a pathway which leads to the mural.

Lagasse was also given a second set of ceramic poppies for her home garden. 

Rochester Memorial School will also hopes to receive another grant award from the Rochester Cultural Counsel to bring street artist TOMBOBNYC to the school for a second work.

TOMBOB, also New-York-based, transforms mundane objects into whimsical, colorful works of art. In October 2018 he turned one of the school’s electrical boxes into an ostrich as a statement that “students shouldn’t put their heads in the sand.”

TOMBOB donated his time and materials to paint the first artwork at the school but the elementary school is hopeful that a grant from the Cultural Council, and funds raised by Rochester’s Parent Teacher Organization, will bring the artist back for a larger-scale fixture.