PERU - It's said it took Leonardo da Vinci nearly three years to complete his painting of The Last Supper on a wall of the Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. And, for John Kokoszka, it took almost as long to recreate the piece in a different design.
Kokoszka recently completed a mild steel interpretation of The Last Supper - also bearing the same name of da Vinci's masterpiece of Jesus Christ and the Twelve Apostles - after nearly two years of painstaking work.
"I like doing very difficult pieces," said Kokoszka. "And, I chose The Last Supper because it's a very difficult piece."
Kokoszka created the 26 ft. by 6 ft. piece for the Stone Ledge Sculpture Garden, a familiar roadside marvel to those traveling along State Route 9 between Keeseville and Plattsburgh. The sculpture garden was created in 1995 for Jackie and Richard Sabourin, consisting of Kokoszka's earlier pieces, and is something Kokoszka said he is proud to add to with his latest work.
"I'm very proud of this piece. I imagine it was hard to paint but it was even harder to make a sculpture out of it," said Kokoszka, whose piece is accentuated by ceramic food pieces created by artist Carol Vossler of Loon Lake. "Getting everything in alignment and just right was very difficult. It was amazing how it all came together."
Kokoszka's inspiration for the piece came from his great-great grandmother, he said, who he always remembered for having images and likenesses of Jesus throughout her apartment. However, it was while recreating The Last Supper that inspiration struck once again, as it did when he was creating the likeness of abolitionist John Brown more than a decade ago, which is also displayed today in the sculpture garden.
"[The steel] really spoke to me," said Kokoszka. "It was like when I was working on the John Brown piece, like the spirit came down and helped me work with the piece to get it how I wanted it to come out."
Kokoszka also credited the materials he received from Jeffords Steel and Engineering Company, Plattsburgh, for making the piece possible.
"I work with them because they work with you real well," said Kokoszka. "Jeffords Steel is excellent."
An unveiling of Kokoszka's latest work will be held at the Stone Ledge Sculpture Garden, located at 3901 State Route 9, will be held Sunday, Oct. 24, from 2-4 p.m.
The sculpture garden is approximately 4.5 miles south of the city of Plattsburgh and 8.5 miles north of the village of Keeseville.