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Local artist sends train to California

January 17, 2018 Digital Media Exclusive

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Artist Tom Panei and his father, Vincent, show off the steam train mural Panei created in 2014 for a competition. Panei sold the mural in November to a California collector. His father inspired him to draw the train.

RENFREW — A highly e-steamed local artist got back on track recently after sending a first-class mural out west.

In November Tom Panei took apart his 28-by-8-foot mural of the steam locomotive that is the inspiration for the book and movie “Polar Express,” wrapped the seven panels separately in four layers of protection and covered the stack of panels with a tarp before sending it off in an open flatbed truck to Santa Barbara, Calif.

Panei explained that each year he attends the Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Mich., which is a 19-day, outdoor international art competition held each fall.

In 2014 he created the huge mural of the Pere Marquette 1225 during the competition, so those visiting could watch him work.

“I met people whose grandfathers worked on the train,” Panei said. “People were giving me hats and stuff. It was pretty neat.”

Panei created another huge mural of the Last Supper, titled “Sacrifice,” for the Art Prize competition the previous year, but struggled to come up with a subject for the 2014 competition.

He asked his father, Vincent, for suggestions and Vincent reminded him of a train he had drawn at age 15. Vincent presented the old drawing to his son and suggested he draw a train for the competition.

A full story appears in the Butler Eagle.

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