From a flower to an old barn, artist Maureen Pouder draws her inspiration from the simple things in life.
The Miller Place resident was honored during the Town of Brookhaven’s last meeting on for her work on an old mailbox for the American Legion Arthur H. Clune Post 1533 in Mastic Beach. Pouder, a recreation specialist for the Town of Brookhaven, met members of the post around four months ago through Marcel Van Orden, a post member and one of Pouder’s art students at the Mastic Recreation Center.
Van Orden was originally tasked with reinventing the post’s mailbox. Pouder came on board after Van Orden mentioned it in conversation. In a couple weeks, the duo transformed the old rusted delivery mailbox into an American-inspired mural depicting the American flag and a bald eagle. The mailbox will help collect unserviceable flags, which the legion burns every Flag Day, said past post commander, George Barnes. He added that the mailbox mural was so beautiful that he hates to put it outside.
“Painting [it] like a mural brings attention,” Pouder said. “People will walk past a mailbox and not take a second look. But when it’s painted like a mural they really look at it and they’ll see it’s a flag depository.”
Receiving town recognition is an honor for Pouder, who started working for the municipality in 2008. For the past several years, she’s held art classes at the Blue Point, Shoreham and Mastic recreation centers where she teaches watercolor, oil and acrylic painting skills. The artist also runs Brookhaven’s annual art shows, which are held in Port Jefferson.
Pouder has painted murals for the Cedar Beach Nature Center, among other places on Long Island. Last year, the artist decorated a bra to help raise $2,000 for breast cancer. She used wool roving and barbed pin to create flowers and butterflies on the bra.
“She’s a very talented artist … she’s also a very hard worker,” said Kurt Leuffen, superintendent of Brookhaven’s parks and recreation department. “She’s been teaching art for the last couple of years [and] she’s done a very good job. I would say all participants really enjoy her as an instructor — she’s very good, she’s very thorough and she’s very helpful.”
Leuffen has known Pouder for nearly 25 years. He added that town employees and those at Pouder’s recreation centers are proud of her and lucky to have her as an employee.
While Pouder knows various art media, she said she loves painting with watercolor, acrylic and oil paint the most. Although she can finish a watercolor painting in a couple of days, oil paintings take her several weeks, as they need more time to dry. Pouder added that she gets more joy when she donates her time to work on a painting like her mailbox mural, because she knows her work is truly appreciated.
“Maureen’s artwork and volunteerism is very well known throughout the community,” said town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point). “We are all grateful that she shares her time and talent so generously.”