My Corner, Your Corner: Michael Pilato is gone — but he’ll be back

My Corner, Your Corner - Tony Callaio | October 2nd, 2015 12:06 pm

Michael Pilato has left the building — literally.

Pilato, the gifted muralist from State College, wrapped up things at the now-famous mural that graces the Newrose Building downtown. Something tells me Pilato’s work on the mural will never be done. He will be back to add a few cardinals and to cover-coat the mural with a protectant against sun and graffiti.

Through his work, we’ve come to know him as a man full of love — love of his work, love of his subjects and now love of the City of Pittston. We certainly know of his deep love for his daughter Skye who passed away a year ago. Skye is seen throughout the mural.

I’m not sure how Pilato even got to finish the mural. It seemed that so many people stopped to look at the progress of his work, and he was compelled to talk to them. I think I saw him on the ground more than he was on the lift painting. I never saw a wristwatch on his arm, which would explain why he would paint until the wee hours of the night into early morning.

Sometimes you’d see the same people at the mural looking for little details that they did not see previously. My friend Donna Kleback was one such person. After many visits, she marveled at the mural’s beauty. I’m sure she found a certain peace by being there. A lot of people feel that as well.

It’s pretty crazy to see a canvas this size and its huge undertaking from start to finish. Pilato told me his next venture is in Williamsport. Due to the upcoming cold weather, he’ll start the project in his studio. How big is this studio?

Of course, Pilato does not do all of this alone. He and Yuriy Karabash are a team and you can find Karabash next to Pilato in the mural.

Karabash lives in Williamsport but hails from Eastern European country of Moldova, fomerly part of the Soviet Union. He and Pilato have been friends and business partners for 20 years.

Artist Kristen Rinaldi from Springbrook recently moved to Pittston and has been helping Pilato. You’ll see Rinaldi around Pittston working on the fire hydrant project using her artistic skills in painting hydrants around the city.

Jallen gaffe

The artists involved in the project are perfectionists, but there was one exception — Pilato’s interpretation of Stephanie Jallen, the hometown hero of the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

The first rendering of Jallen was something the artist couldn’t exactly explain. “I got it wrong and I want to right it,” he said.

So the final piece of the mural was to get Jallen right, with Paralympic medals included. Pilato and Rinaldi worked feverishly reworking Jallen’s image.

When the revision was nearly complete, I had the honor of introducing Jallen to Pilato and Rinaldi as they were painting. Jallen was thrilled to tears to see the revision. The three had a great visit together and Rinaldi even had Jallen recreate her pose on the mural to see if there was anything they could improve on, and improve they did.

Thanks to these artists for making a young lady very happy.

Before Pilato left for State College, he was serenaded by none other than P.J. Melvin at the Knights of Columbus with his version of “New York, New York.” P.J., you still got it!

Pilato will be back next year to do a mural on the building opposite of the current mural on the other side of the parking lot, so until we meet again.

Paint Pittston Pink

The events of Paint Pittston Pink will continue this week with a wine-tasting/silent auction at Callahan’s, Art on Main and Boden Sunday, Oct. 4.

Paint Pittston Pink founder and breast cancer survivor will speak at Wyoming Seminary on Wednesday, Oct. 7.

The conclusion of Paint Pittston Pink will take place at Yoga & Barre Studio featuring a Karma Class on Friday, Oct. 9.

Quote of the week

“Each of us is meant to have a character all our won, to be what no other can exactly be, and do what no other can exactly do.” – William Ellery Channing, American moralist.

Thought of the week

“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” – James Dean, American actor.

Bumper sticker

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi, Indian philosopher.
Stephanie Jallen, left, chats with muralist Michael Pilato in front of the reworked image of herself on the Inspiration Mural in downtown Pittston. Jallen, left, chats with muralist Michael Pilato in front of the reworked image of herself on the Inspiration Mural in downtown Pittston. Photo courtesy of Tony Callaio

My Corner, Your Corner

Tony Callaio

Tony Callaio’s column My Corner, Your Corner runs weekly in the Sunday Dispatch. He can be reached at