High Point gives veterans mural another chance

| 07 Jan 2014 | 01:03

SUSSEX — A mural created by Sussex artist Arthur Frisbie that was unveiled in 2008 and dedicated to the High Point Regional High School military alumni during a Veterans Day assembly was repossessed by the artist over a payment dispute two weeks later.

Now, High Point Board of Education President Paul Derin is trying to get it back.

Six years ago, former High Point High principal Gregory Youngman collaborated with students to purchase a mural to honor High Point alumni veterans.

“My father served in World War II and I served in the U.S. Army for 11 years," Youngman said. "When I was hired as principal in 2006, part of my discussion with students was, ‘Can’t we do more for our student veterans?’”

“Frisbie was part of the collaborative effort,” he said. “Student leaders came forth and began talking about getting a mural that Art Frisbie would design.”

According to Youngman, the project was intended to be modest: a painted mural in front of the media center.

Frisbie said he gave Youngman an idea of the amount of work that would go into the project, despite it said. He said it ended up being much more than originally expected.

Youngman said once the school decided on a design, the district gave frisbie a computerized layout of the mural.

Both men agree there was no legal contract involved when Frisbie agreed to create the mural, no official set amount in relation to cost was agreed upon and no predetermined size.

Frisbie said he started building the project in October of 2008 and finished it for Veterans Day of that year.

“Prior to that, it was two years of coming up with the concept," Frisbie said. "It took me 140-plus hours of hand-painted work to finish the mural.”

Youngman said money was supposed to be reaised via fundraisers to pay for Frisbie's work.

“The project got bigger and bigger," he said. "That’s where the miscommunication occurred. The school was able to raise $1,200 during the construction period to pay for the mural, never expecting the project to grow so expensive.”

Youngman said at that point, he and Frisbie tried between six months to a year to negotiate a price, to no avail.

“Mr. Frisbie felt he wasn’t being properly compensated for his work,” Youngman said.

Frisbie, an eight-year Navy veteran, said it wasn't about the money.

"But I had to make a living," he said. "Even prior to the unveiling, I decided I would give back about $5,000 of my time off of what had become an approximagtelyl $14,500 8x24-foot 3d mural on six 4x8-foot aluminum panels."

Derin approached Frisbie several weeks ago and told him he was trying to raise money to purchase the mural and they settled on a price of $9,300.

"The home for the mural is High Point High," Frisbie said. "I'm happy to see Derin is doing everything he can to get it back there for people to visit and reflect on the meaning o fit. I'm sorry things ended up the way they did; I was honored to build it."

Derin, who was elected to the Board of Education in 2011 and has been president in 2013 hopes to place the mural in the auditorium for Memorial Day, where it can be displayed properly with the risk of vandalism minimized.

“Every year, young men and women join the armed forces to fight for our country," Derin said. "I think it’s honorable and something we need to thank them for.”

Derin, who said the military runs deep in his family, said the project does not involve the Board of Education and he is seeking donations from local businesses. Once Frisbie is paid, he said all the board has to do is accept the mural as a gift.

"One of the things this board prides itself in is this: in 2013 we were allowed to go for a 2 percent increased on the board budget. INstead w

Derin recently set up a Facebook page called High Point U.S. Veterans Mural Fundraiser with a PayPal link available for viewers to click on and donate to the cause.

“It was truly heartbreaking to see the project go awry in the beginning,” Youngman said. “If High Point can get the mural back, I’m all for it.”