July 09. 2015 8:53PM

Artist to restore downtown's Yankee Flyer Diner mural

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON

Union Leader Correspondent


At left, artist James Aponovich donates an oil on canvas painting of the former Yankee Flyer Diner to Judith Carlson and Fouad Mahfuz, committee members raising funds to restore a downtown mural. (COURTESY)

NASHUA — A large fundraising campaign is underway to help restore a piece of history in the heart of downtown Nashua.

Area artist James Aponovich, who painted the iconic Yankee Flyer Diner mural nearly 20 years ago on Main Street, is planning to restore the aging art piece and bring it back to its former glory.

“It is a big project. I was a bit concerned about the mural when I visited it last year and I saw that it was flaking in some problem areas because it is south-facing and exposed to the weather,” said Aponovich.

Aponovich painted the mural in 1997, which depicts the former Yankee Flyer Diner that was housed at the corner of Main and Hollis streets from the 1940s until about 1965. The mural is still displayed on the wall of 222-226 Main Street where the famous diner once stood, although it is now occupied by Citizen’s Bank.

“I grew up in Nashua and I remember the downtown Yankee Flyer Diner as a kid. I would pass by the diner and I remember the smell of coffee, cigarette smoke and toast. I felt it was a shame when it went away — it was very nostalgic,” said Aponovich.

Aponovich was the winner of a local art contest in 1995 that gave him the opportunity to paint the downtown mural. Now, several years later, he is anxious to restore the landmark painting.

“I feel motivated to bring its beauty back. I think that murals are important for the community because they bring art to people who might not normally be exposed to it,” he explained.

Once funding is secured, Aponovich will dismantle the massive 10 by 27 foot mural and take it to his art studio in Peterborough, where he will spend about 10 weeks restoring the piece before it is returned home to Main Street.

The budget to restore the mural is about $53,000. A combination of donations and grants will be used to fund some of the project, along with a unique fundraising campaign spearheaded by City Arts Nashua.

City Arts Nashua is now selling a limited edition of 100 high-quality giclee prints of Aponovich’s original concept oil painting of the diner, which he submitted as part of the contest 20 years ago.

East print, made on photo rag archival watercolor paper with Ultrachrome archival inks, will be signed by Aponovich and sell for $250. One lucky buyer will also win Aponovich’s original oil on canvas painting valued at $15,000.

“This is an unusual opportunity to acquire an Aponovich print at a very affordable price while supporting the restoration of a public art treasure,” said Kathy Hersh, president of City Arts Nashua. “All profits from the sale of the prints will go to the mural restoration fund.”

Later this month, a reception will be held in honor of the mural restoration project. Aponovich will be present for the July 30th gathering at PRG Rugs, where he will be signing the prints and greeting art buyers. A reception will follow at Surf Restaurant.

Anyone who is interested in purchasing a print of the Yankee Flyer Diner art piece can go to cityartsnashua.org.

khoughton@newstote.com