Adults, Children Pack Painted Earth to Make Tiles for Terry

The Painted Earth art studio in Countryside Marketplace was packed today with residents painting...

The Painted Earth art studio in Countryside Marketplace was packed today with residents painting tiles in honor of Terry Smith Jr.
Christine Piccola took great care in painting her 4-inch tile, which will be among 350 tiles painted by Menifee residents to be included in a mosaic planned as a tribute to 11-year-old Terry Smith Jr.

"I just thought this was a good way to show my support, said Piccola, mother of 10-year-old and 4-year-old daughters. "I'm not really an artist, but it's a nice way to bring the community together. It shows what an awesome community we live in.

"God forbid anything like that should ever happen to my kids, but if it did, this shows me I'd have the entire community to back me up."

A body matching the boy's description was found buried on the property of his Menifee home last week following a four-day search by thousands of volunteers over several square miles. Through supplies and manpower donated by the Painted Earth pottery and art studio and funds donated to the Remembering Terry Smith group, the mosaic and plaque honoring Terry will be mounted on the wall at Menifee Market, near where the boy lived.

A day after residents were offered the chance to come to Painted Earth to create their tributes to Terry, the art studio was packed with customers today. Paying $3 each for one tile per family to cover materials only, young and old painted colorful designs and poignant messages in another sign of the community unity shown ever since the boy was first reported missing.

"The first person was in line at 5:45 this morning," said store manager Gayle Durivage. "By the time I got here at 9, the line was all the way down the side of the building. It's been crowded all day and everyone has been wonderful. It's been a really hot day and the AC couldn't really handle it, and people have had to wait their turn. But everyone has been patient, respectful and kind."

Distribution of the tiles was stopped at 150. When the store opens again on Thursday, 100 more tiles will be made available and another 100 on Friday. Painted Earth will handle the time and expense of firing the ceramics in an 1,800-degree kiln so the pottery glaze paints become vibrant and permanent. A tile artist will assemble the tiles around the plaque and mount it on the wall of Menifee Market on Scott Road at a later date, when a dedication ceremony will be held.

Bill Gillette, one of the organizers of the massive volunteer search effort, joined his girlfriend Anna Bolton in decorating tiles for the mosaic.

"We needed something like this as a tribute to Terry," said Gillette, one of the committee members who voted to use the group's remaining funds to help pay for the mosaic. "Several companies have stepped forward, offering to take care of the funeral. The money from our fund was still there, and it turned out to be the perfect amount for this.

"A lot of people out there were doubting our intentions with the fund. Hopefully, people will agree this is a proper tribute."

Painted Earth is located at 30010 Haun Road in the Countryside Marketplace.

Painted Earth store manager Gayle Duurivage shows some of the many tiles completed by Menifee residents today.

Distribution of the tiles was cut off about 5 p.m. when the day's supply was sold out.

Volunteer search coordinator Bill Gillette and his girlfriend Anna Bolton work on a tile in honor of Terry Smith Jr.


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