St. John Valley

Local artist refurbishes Frenchville mural gifted to town during 2014 Acadian Congress

FRENCHVILLE, Maine — A Frenchville mural created by a Limestone artist has new life after being refurbished by a Madawaska educator with artistic talents of her own.

The 3-D mural, a combination of painting and sculpture, was one of eight gifted to St. John Valley towns by Limestone artist Tom Cote during the Congres Mondial Acadien of 2014.

The CMA, also known as the Acadian World Congress, is a festival held every five years throughout the United States and Canada to celebrate Acadian and Cajun culture and identity.

John Raymond of the Heritage Park Committee commissioned Tessie Sirois of Madawaska to refurbish the Frenchville mural, located at Heritage Park. She began the project on July 3.

“Over time the mural has gone through some weathering and stuff and needed to be revamped so we asked Tessie Sirois to be the artist to revamp it back to some of its original colors and she’s done a great job,” Raymond said.

A 3-D mural which Limestone artist Tom Cote donated to the Town of Frenchville in 2014 was recently refurbished by Tessie Sirois of Madawaska.
Courtesy of Rick Douglas

Sirois, 63, is not an artist by trade, but has always enjoyed creative pursuits.

“For me, I don’t paint for a living, just once in a while if I feel like making a painting I make a painting; it’s not a career or anything,” Sirios said. “I took painting lessons back in the [1990s] and just really like being creative with my hands. I do sewing, crafting, woodworking and building little toys for my grandchildren.”

Siriois recently retired from St. John Valley Technology Center after serving for 30 years as an education technician throughout SAD 33 schools. She plans to continue serving area students as a special education room ed tech for Madawaska School Department beginning this fall.

It was at the St. John Valley Technology Center that Sirois honed some of her artistic skills. As a person responsible for student safety, she insisted on learning herself how to operate the machinery in the center such as woodworking and automotive repair equipment.

She was even trained in welding.

She said some of those skills came in handy in refurbishing Cote’s mural, which she described as “beautiful.”

“It also depicts a scene from the Valley — a maple sugar camp — and it’s important to keep parts of our heritage alive. It’s just a beautiful part of our culture,” she said.

“I had to keep the integrity and intent of the previous artist and not add any creation to it,” Sirois added. “I was there to restore it, not to create.”

A 3-D mural which Limestone artist Tom Cote donated to the Town of Frenchville in 2014 was recently refurbished by Tessie Sirois of Madawaska. Courtesy of Rick Douglas

Sirois said the mural refurbishment is nearly complete, with the exception of some final details she hopes to wrap up early next week.

“Weather permitting, it will be sealed on Tuesday evening,” she said.

Raymond agreed that Cote’s mural is worthy of refurbishment because it represents the heritage of northern Maine Acadian people.

“It’s important we all look at that and be proud of what we do, who we are and where we come from,” Raymond said.
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