Last summer while visiting home, we pulled over on the side of a very busy highway so I could take this photo. The small painting is a familiar sight for many folk who have traveled over Kellys Mountain (Cape Breton Island).
I have clear memories of the many road trips we made as a family between Sydney and Ingonish. My siblings and I would watch for the portrait with anticipation as we started the climb up the mountain from the backseat of the family car (where we sang along to The Rankin Family of course).
Last spring my photograph along with 4 others hung at Java Blend Cafe in the North End of Halifax. I was contacted by a man named Neil who told me his mom had painted the portrait. Through email he told me this story,
Mom first painted this back in 1981 I think, on one of my parents many trips to their summer cabin in River Denys. That cabin also used to have paintings on it as well. She had her paints, ladder and brushes, she found the image on the back of a magazine I think and used that as a model for Kelly.
She painted to the many horns or cars and trucks as well as people yelling things good and bad. Some people thought it was great, others thought she was defacing the rocks. Sometime after that, not sure how many years, but the department of highways sand blasted all the graffiti from the rocks including Mom’s painting. I guess there were complaints on the morning talk show after they sand blasted the painting, so she went back up and put the painting back on. Now I’m not sure what year that was, but it’s been there ever since.
She would touch up the painting most summers and cover up anything anyone painted on Kelly. One summer it was so hot, someone painted a pair of sunglasses on him, funny. When she passed 2 years ago, my sisters, Brother, Dad and nieces when up to touch up the painting. One niece did the majority of the touch up, seems to display artistic talent as well. I had the Plaque made that summer and stuck it to the wall.
For everyone else, who can not stop (probably not recommended) the plaque reads:
Painted by Vinetta Colosimo
Dominion, NS, 1934-2012