Harbor Isle residents complete a masterpiece


Harbor Isle has a new symbol of unity and artistic excellence with the unveiling of a large-scale mural at Harbor Isle Beach. This mural, a colorful celebration of the community’s spirit, represents the culmination of months of collaboration, creativity, and dedication.

The mural project was led by the Harbor Isle artist, Stephanie Erdel-Laws who initiated the mural project in January, developing the concept and pitching it to the town of Hempstead in February. The painting began at the start of June and features contributions from six artists, all of who have local ties to the Island Park community. Working on the project was Stephanie Erdel-law who is the organizer, Frank Caprino,Diane Horn, Ronda Gale, Andrew Ricci, and Stephanie’s daughter Emma Taglianetti.

“I thought it’d be a good time in my life to give back to the community,” Erdel-Laws said. “We all are professional artists and I thought, let me give back in a way that I can, which is through art. When I started this project, I didn’t realize I would be able to bring together such an amazing team of artists.”

Erdel-Laws went to school for scientific illustration and painting and has painted a lot of birds and oil paintings. She is a creative director for a subsidiary of the company Xerox. Caprino teaches paint and sip classes at Earth Arts in Long Beach.

Horn, a Baldwin resident who retired in 2020 after 37 years as an art teacher at Hegarty Elementary School, not only taught art but also inspired generations of students, many of whom have gone on to become artists themselves. Horn taught both Erdel-Law and Caprino when they were students at the school.

“They were very talented and they loved art,” Horn said. “It’s really very rewarding. To see that some of the kids you taught continued.”

The mural features elements that highlight the beach’s natural beauty of its landscapes, and the birds that call Harbor Isle home. Visitors expressed their admiration for the mural and gratitude towards the artists.

“This is such a good community and I feel like other people don’t know we do a lot here,” Erdel-Laws said. “There’s a lot of fun things that happened, a lot of community events and we’re trying to bring the community back together a little bit.”

The success of the mural project has sparked discussions about more public art initiatives and community-driven projects. Diane Horn, although retired from teaching, continues to be a figure in these conversations, lending her expertise and passion to new endeavors.

“We need more art programs in the school and more money towards the arts,” Horn said.

One of the standout features of the Harbor Isle mural, which will be added soon, is the inclusion of a QR code. Erdel-Laws, who also has a web design background, plans to add this modern touch as an interactive dimension to the traditional art form, offering visitors a more engaging experience. Erdel-Laws says she plans to build a website about Harbor Isle, which will have all the species of animals and the history of the community. Once the QR code is scanned visitors will see the name of each of the birds in the mural, give info about the species, and be directed to the website that will be set up in the near future.

“People can come to interact with the mural and come down to learn more about what’s naturally here, that’s the whole purpose,” Erdel-Laws said.