All of Lovallo’s Woodhaven paintings, along with a wide selection of her other works, will be on display this month at The Center at Maple Grove Cemetery at 127-15 Kew Gardens Road through June 30.
Lovallo’s most famous painting is the one she did of Lewis’ of Woodhaven on 85th Street. The painting includes Scaturro’s, the elevated train with Christmas lights, pedestrians, a sidewalk Santa, and lots more Woodhaven details for residents to enjoy.
Over the years, Lovallo’s Woodhaven collection has grown to include the Forest Park Carousel, Oak Ridge, and the FDNY Dispatch building on Park Lane South and Woodhaven Boulevard.
And this year, Lovallo has added one more Woodhaven landmark to her collection, a painting of Emanuel United Church of Christ, completed in time for their 140th Anniversary celebration.
The story behind this painting goes back a few years to when Lovallo was a guest speaker at the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society, which holds monthly meetings at Emanuel. Afterwards, she told me that she’d always been taken by the church.
“I always thought it was beautiful,” she said.
She noted that due to its location on our neighborhood’s southern border with Ozone Park, it was the first or last thing she saw when entering or leaving Woodhaven.
But Lovallo wasn’t sure which angle she should paint the church from. So we sent her a picture we’d taken of the church back in 2010, moments after a big storm rolled through Woodhaven.
The sun had just come out and a beautiful rainbow was floating just over the roof of the church.
Lovallo loved the picture and stood in the same spot while creating her latest masterpiece. We’ll be forever proud of our little contribution to this beautiful Woodhaven creation.
We caught up with Lovallo while she was painting Emanuel on the corner of 91st Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard back in July 2015. The first thing that struck us was that with all of the cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, helicopters and airplanes it was a very noisy space to be creative in.
But the noise did not deter Lovallo. “I’m so used to it that it doesn’t matter,” she said.
But one challenge of painting outdoors that she can’t get used to is the wind. From one session to the next, Lovallo had to change easels to use something a bit sturdier and less likely to blow over.
Another distraction, but a welcome one, are the passersby that stop and ask questions. “They usually ask about how I chose this subject to paint, or they ask me how long I’ve been painting,” she says.
A lot of aspiring painters also stop to seek advice. “I get a lot of people who always wanted to paint, but just don’t have the time,” Lovallo says. “And I always tell them to join a class, that’s how you will find the time.”
It was very interesting and exciting catching up with Lovallo every few months and seeing how the painting was coming along. She had several works in progress, so this one would get put down every so often before she would start working on it again.
And finally, a few months ago Lovallo called me to say that it was finished. She had thought about adding the rainbow into the painting, like the original photograph, but it was so lovely as it was that she wisely left it alone.
My wife and I purchased a canvas print of the painting to donate to Emanuel (Lovallo generously donated the frame), and we went over her house to pick it up.
As we were sitting admiring it, the sun was setting through her front window and suddenly a rainbow prism appeared on the painting of Emanuel, directly on the roof, exactly as it did in the original photograph we took seven years ago.
We took that as some kind of blessing and hope it means that it will hang in good health inside Emanuel for the next 140 years. And that’s the story behind Madeline Lovallo’s latest Woodhaven masterpiece, one we expect people will be enjoying for a very long time.