The needler in the haystack.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Plainfield artist works to save world's fastest passenger ship


A giclée of Maria Mijares "Midnight Funnels" will be
auctioned to help preserve the SS United States.
 

Plainfield artist Maria Mijares is working to save the world's fastest passenger ship, the SS United States, from the scrap heap.

Mijares, who lives in the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District, specializes in large-scale transportation-themed artworks. Among her commissions are the panels in NJ Transit's Meadowlands station that opened a few years ago.

For the past three years, Maria has been painting the once glorious SS United States, nicknamed "Big U" as it sits docked in Philadelphia while preservationists try to interest developers in moving her to New York for a new life as a high-tech resource center (see stories in the New York Times here, and the Ledger here).

The SS United States made her maiden voyage in 1953 and set a world's record for fastest crossing of the Atlantic. At the time, she was a luxury passenger ship, but had been designed (partly with government support) to be quickly converted to military use in case of an outbreak of hostilities with the Soviet Union. She was so fast that her propellers' design was considered a Cold War state secret.

When jet airliners supplanted passenger ships, the SS United States was sidelined and she made her final voyage in the late 1960s.

A group of preservationists, the SS United States Conservancy (see their website here), has worked for years to raise money to preserve and to find a new life for the rusting ship.

A last ditch effort will be a fundraiser on Thursday, October 29, at 7:00 PM at the Union League Club in Philadelphia, where a giclée of Mijares' painting "Midnight Funnels" will be auctioned to benefit the cause. You can find more details on the Conservancy's website, or visit Maria's website here.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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