Troy artist gets special honor for Foster mural
TROY - Around Troy and many other locales, Bonnie Bell Hilfiger is a familiar face.
The Troy area artist is well known for her painting, which she does on everything from canvas to antiques to kids' faces.
Over the years, I've taken many photos of her for the newspaper as she creates her latest work of art.
Now, she's gotten some special recognition for her large mural of Stephen Foster songs that she painted on the fence covering the Towanda Iron and Metal Co. She painted it a couple of years ago in Towanda.
You've probably seen it. It's hard to miss as you drive by.
Bonnie received a Special Recognition Award of Merit from the National Federation of Music Clubs for the promotion of American music with her mural. The federation a national organization that is dedicated to promoting American music through its support of members of all ages, according to a website affiliated with the organization.
Bonnie was presented the honor at the June meeting of the Towanda Musical Society.
"I thought it was commendable that it was a national award," Bonnie said, noting that the mural was her idea. "That's what I wanted to do, and that's what I did."
She thought it was important to do the mural because she said Foster lived in Towanda at one time, and was the most popular composer of his time.
Bonnie said her mother, Grace Bell, 92, of Towanda, was her inspiration for going into art. She noted that her mother, in fact, won a first place state award for her own painting in a recent veterans' art contest, despite being legally blind. Her mother was a World War II nurse, and has always been interested in art.
"She was always doing it (art), and it made me want to do it," Bonnie said.
Her mural is called "Songs of Stephen Foster."
Eight of Foster's songs are featured in the mural, including the famous "Camptown Races."
"Beautiful Dreamer is the centerpiece of the mural, flanked by two other 'Dream' songs (I Dream of Jeanie and What Must a Fairy's Dream Be?), and the 'Night Sky' dream theme continues throughout the mural," Bonnie said.
She noted that 6 p.m. in the summer is a good time to look at the mural because the sun shines through tiny holes in the mural and resembles stars.
Bonnie said people enjoy the mural. She even included her family and friends, not to mention singing sensation Aaron Kelly, in the mural.
"They say it's holding up well and they're enjoying it."
She hopes it will stay up for 23 more years, for a total of 25.
"We were thrilled to have her receive this award for the promotion of American music," said Marian Feathers, a member of the Towanda Musical Society and the Board of the PA Federation of Music Clubs.
"She has her own style, and it sort of flowed right through."
She said they found all of Foster's songs in the mural.
"Other members loved it, everybody likes her."
Marian said her husband took pictures of the mural in November, and sent them in for consideration for an award. The national chairman of the Parade of American Music Programs, which is one of the arts and education divisions of the National Federation of Music Clubs, was impressed.
Do you have an idea for the Western Bradford Notebook? You can reach Eric Hrin at (570) 297-5251; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.