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Artist Completes 3rd Mural for Hospital Before Reuniting With Spouse in Military

Springs decorative artists donate mural to Southampton Hospital ER's pediatric care room.

Working down to the wire, the artists of recently put the finishing touches on their third mural donated to , just weeks before the lead artist leaves the East End to be reunited with his spouse, who is returning from serving in Afghanistan.

The Springs-based interior decorative arts firm, a family company composed of Heather Dunn-Kostura, her husband Richard Kostura and her stepson Thom Kostura, started the project April 4, in the pediatric care room of the hospital’s ER, leaving a short window of time to complete the mural before Thom had to go.

The team wrapped up the project last Wednesday, April 18. They previously painted an depicting the beach and a .

“The basement was for the staff and visitors; the second mural was for the elderly, and this one is for the children,” said Richard Kostura, the creative director of the company. He said the ER mural is “designed to help relieve some of the stress and fear associated with children and families that find themselves there.”

Dunn-Kostura said the mural had to be a simple and straight-forward project, because at any time the artists could have to pack up their brushes and clear the room so patients could enter. They chose a design of blue skies, mountains and hot air balloons. The hospital maintenance staff painted the blue base coat and they did the rest, using stencils for a dozen or so hot air balloons of various sizes.

Thom Kostura said the past two murals presented challenges because of the canvases — one painted on cinderblocks and another on the backside of the emergency entrance canopy — but this time they could simply paint on a drywall surface. “I didn’t have to climb through any windows this time,” he said with a chuckle.

With the project now behind him, Kostura is packing his bags to move to the Memphis, Tenn., area to join his spouse when he returns from his deployment to Afghanistan.

Kostura and Ijpe DeKoe, a sergeant first class with the U.S. Army, married on Aug. 4, 2011 —19 days after in New York  — at , officiated by the . Kostura said they had gone to to deal with tickets when DeKoe was on a three-day leave, and at the spur of the moment decided to pick up a marriage license as well.

The couple has been together on-and-off for 14 years. Kostura said that distance and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell made it difficult to maintain a relationship — but DADT, a policy that said gays could serve in the military as long as they remain in the closet, was repealed in 2011.

Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, he and DeKoe can’t live on a military base together, Kostura said. Instead, they will live a half-hour away from the base DeKoe is assigned to, Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tenn.

In addition to serving his current tour in Afghanistan, DeKoe served in Iraq in 2005 and 2006. He was born in the Netherlands and became a U.S. citizen in 2008. He works in the Army Civil Affairs Division, specializing in reconstruction and infrastructure, Kostura said.

Richard Kostura said it was important to his son to complete the mural for the children before going on his way, and the company plans to continue donations to the hospital — eyeing the cafeteria as the next project.

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Greg April 25, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Wonderfull and generous work.
Marsha Kenny April 26, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Thank you Heather, Richard and Thom for making the pediatric exam room so special by sharing your creative talent with Southampton Hospital. You're the best! Marsha Kenny
Dana Kalbacher April 26, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Well now I know the whole story!! Been an admirer of your work for some time now!! Thank you for sharing yourself and your artwork! Its wonderful!
Roger Blaugh April 26, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Beautiful and inspiring! Thank you!!
Dr. Victor Grazina May 27, 2012 at 12:47 AM
I love the basement mural and how you transformed the space. The details are fantastic- like the existing sign being pulled by the plane.

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