By Jano Tantongco
Con Artist painted “lento,” which means “slow” in Spanish, on West Hills Road between 5th and 6th Avenues to help advise drivers to slow down at the blind curve.
Driving along West Hills Road in Huntington Station, drivers are reminded by a painted electrical pole to drive “lento,” Spanish for “slowly,” as they round the corner.
The artist behind it is Con Artist, 68, of Huntington Station.
Her mother, Angela Braglia, had always called her “Con,” short for Constance, as a child. Eventually, after her father disowned her and a divorce, she decided it was time to reinvent herself. She legally changed her name to “Con Artist.”
She’s painted two other electrical poles so far, and has plans to create five more as part of a commission possible through a $250 grant awarded this month from Source The Station, a community engagement initiative sponsored by Renaissance Downtowns, the station’s master developer.
The pole painted with “lento” is on West Hills Road between 5th and 6th Avenues, just a block from her home. She said the turn is a “dangerous blind curve” corner with no stop sign or lights. She said she had put up signs previously warning drivers to slow down, but they were eventually removed.
So, she opted for a more permanent form of signage.
“People are responding to it… and that’s a good thing,” Artist said. “I stand there and I look, they do slow down a little bit. Every little bit helps more and more.”
The “slow” pole is on the same road between 6th and 7th avenues. Her third pole is a depiction of sunflowers, with no signage, on New York Avenue between 18th and 19th Streets.
Artist has several more poles to paint on West Hills Road, including one by a school bus stop. On that one, she plans to paint balloons and educational symbols like math formulas.
Her goal is to beautify the station and help unify the “diversified” community.
“We’ve had a lot of problems with crime… however, the good energy can be put out there, that’s what I’m trying to do through my art,” Artist said.
Artist said she received full permission from the Long Island Power Authority and Public Service Electric and Gas Company to paint the poles.
Now retired, Artist said she has worked in the fields of a variety of media including teaching sculpture, painting and tango dancing. She moved to Huntington Station eight years ago from Islip Terrace to be closer to her daughter, Sara Carino.
Her recent beautification efforts have also extended to another project involving Rainworks spray, which paints a message visible when water touches concrete. Among these messages, she’s painted one in front of Community Market on Depot Road. When it rains, it reads, “Live and Let Live.”
Up next, she plans to paint a Rainworks image of Walt Whitman by the Long Island Rail Road station.