There are a few things that signal the season. The changing weather. A tree's foliage. Sweaters to t-shirts and back again. And, of course, the windows at the on Monmouth Street.
If you've been in downtown Red Bank you've noticed the windows, painted with pumpkins and yellow leaves in the fall, snowmen and snowflakes in the winter, pink ribbons and messages about awareness during Pink Week, and currently patriotic scenes for the Fourth of July. It's all the work of Lisa Vitello, a Broadway Diner employee who for the last six years has used the restaurant's "naked" windows as her revolving canvas.
The work is fleeting, scrubbed off every month or so to make room for the next window gallery, but Vitello loves the job and the artistic creativity it allows her to express.
"I had never done something like this. I liked to draw, but I didn't paint," she said. "My boss asked, 'Do you think you can do it?' I said yes and I've been doing it ever since."
Vitello doesn't use templates or stencils and describes her free-form style as "child-like." It's a style that's attracted attention and even the offer of other jobs. For Pink Week, Vitello was hired to paint the window of Broad Street's frozen yogurt dispensary Kravings. She's also got another job pending and still more people considering hiring her for her services. When she set out painting window scenes, she didn't expect any attention to come as a result. That's changed, however, she said, and now people even recognize her on the street as "the one who paints the windows."
"I love doing it. It's my own style, my own ideas," she said. "When people appreciate what you do it feels good. Just to be noticed is cool."
Vitello paints about eight to 10 different scenes each year. Her favorites are the fall scenes and the ones she does for Pink Week because they're for a good cause. It would probably be easier just to hang posters or pre-made decorations, she admitted, but there's nothing charming or even interesting about that.
"This is more personal," she said. "You're putting your own touch on it, it's not just something you can pick up at the store. People here look forward to it. Everyone wants to know what's next."