Following the AARP New Jersey demonstration project in 2017, Edward Wetzel worked with a small team of MDA volunteers to refine his concept. In July 2018 he started to work drawing an impressive 20 by 30 foot reproduction of a Metuchen house and porch in one-point perspective. The vanishing point drew the eye towards two iconic people with New Jersey and Metuchen ties – Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. As the veranda turns a corner Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain is sitting in a rocking chair. He reputedly celebrated his 70th birthday in Metuchen. Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman was a compatriot and reason for his visit. Also depicted is Thomas Peterson Mundy, the first African American to vote in an election in New Jersey, who once lived in Metuchen.
From the west end of the wall with the house, the Metuchen story unfolds in a series of vignettes. First is a pastoral landscape with the Old Franklin Schoolhouse and idealized buildings in the present-day downtown visible across an open field. Then the viewer is confronted by a towering watering can with a robin perched atop. Butting up against this is a pergola overflowing with greenery. In the next scene a young Martin Jessen is beside a locomotive with the Metuchen station sign overhead. This scene also captures the notion of the artist that the Metuchen story is full of moments where people leave and people come home. From here the retro-themed section has a giant- woman riding a classically styled red bicycle. Then a grandmother pushing an old-fashioned stroller and a child releasing flower petals is a final flourish. The mural concludes with an old-time parade, though inhabited with a celebration of the rich diversity that makes Metuchen so unique in New Jersey and America today.
About the Artist
Edward Wetzel (b. 1959) is a Metuchen-born artist. Through the years he has had a teaching studio downtown, been commissioned to create large-scale drawings of many historic houses, designed scenery for local theater companies, and in recent years has taken an active interest in public art. Wetzel has had a life-long interest in soccer and for many years volunteered and helped with the youth soccer team, even after his kids graduated. He drives a school bus and has formed meaningful relationships with leading artists in Metuchen and regionally through his association with the Du Cret School of Art, Dragonfly Theater Company, and Metuchen Arts Council. He and his wife Ginny who is a teacher in the Metuchen School District live in Metuchen today.
Grant funding has been provided by the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners
Through a grant award from the Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Trust Fund.