'If You Paint It, They Will Come'

Local Artist Mr. Nap Rules Mural Roost

Tony Napoli, known more affectionately as “Mr. Nap,” is a local artist who has spread his work and abilities around local towns over the past three decades. One may not know his exact name, but many have seen his work in one or more places around greater Bucks County.

In 1992, Tony landed a part-time job as a substitute teacher at Pennsbury High school and started the day before the prom. Tony recalls “seeing all sorts of commotion, people carrying trees and hundreds of students taping up the walls." That, of course, was only preparation for the prom.

"I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in a high school setting, and was amazed by the artistic detail of the event," Tony remembers.

Part-time led to a full-time role for Tony as an art teacher at the school. “Fast forward to 2011, and I was running the entire prom,” Tony passionately says, as it was a dream job to be charged with heading the most famous prom in America, which is the subject of the book Wonderland:  A Year in the Life of an American High School.

Tony has many fond memories from this experience, such as “2019 having an (artistic) Falcon with a boombox in its claws swooping down to deliver the music to the prom.” Recently retired, Tony completed a 30-year career in his roles at Pennsbury, 10 running the prom where Tony would oversee, as Tony puts it, “spend their entire senior year planning for the event."

Retirement didn’t slow Tony down one bit. He started his “second career” being the king of all murals, having painted eight murals spread throughout the county since hanging up his art teaching smock. That’s when he’s not busy working on regular size paintings, of which many of his beautiful landscapes can be seen hanging on the walls of his home in Langhorne.

For one of his first mural projects, Tony says a town commissioned him to do a tribute to the song "Bristol Stomp," a song made famous by the Dovells. The town, of course, was Bristol where he ideated and created the classic and fun mural, towering 24 feet high. “Friday night dances were a big thing, and you can hear the stomping of the floorboards from blocks away.” recalls Tony. The Dovells had a follow-up song “Bristol Twistin' Annie," of which the title origination is unknown, though there is likely an Annie out there to credit for the hit.

Painting murals, especially larger ones, is not a one-person job. Tony has a volunteer crew consisting mostly of former students and parents, all of which Tony has had a positive impact on in their life and this is a way for them to give back. His wife, Shirlee, even gets in on the action, contributing some of the design elements on the projects. Leslie Kliesh and Annie Kruzinski are two of Tony’s main “assistants,” as he calls them.

Tony has been plenty busy in Yardley, with two projects complete and a third in the design phase. He painted the stunning “Greetings From Yardley” mural, positioned on the side of the firehouse building on main street. The mural theme is based on the iconic 1950 postcards that were sold in all major tourism cities. It went from an idea of Tom Cramer, the building owner, to a project fired up by the group Experience Yardley.

“The concept really captured my imagination” says Tony, who brought the large city feel to a small town where he said he wanted to “highlight the iconic things of the town within the name."

He also painted one of the six present and future oversized ducks found around the boro. His, named “Dapper,” where Tony says the inspiration came from “what I know more about than anything in the world – a tribute to the Pennsbury Prom.” The duck is featured wearing a tuxedo, with one side decorated to reflect a prom float.

Tony’s upcoming project is an exciting one. Commissioned by the Girl Scouts and Yardley boro, the theme is fairy tales and will be comprised of sketches handed in by girl scout members. He will have plenty of help from his painting entourage itching to assist him. The 5-foot tall and 40-feet wide mural will be in the works this summer.

When asked how he schedules volunteers, Tony quips, “If you show up for more than 10 minutes, you pick up a brush” – proving that if you paint it, they will come!

“When I do a mural in Yardley, I have students who become parents of students and sometimes a third generation assisting.” ~Tony 'Mr. Nap' Napoli

Related Businesses

Museum at Prairiefire

Museums + Art Galleries

Museum at Prairiefire

Overland Park, KS

The Museum at Prairiefire provides ACCESS FOR ALL to understand and celebrate natural history and science. The Museum is open...

Nashville Zoo

Botanical Gardens

Nashville Zoo

Nashville, TN

Nashville Zoo is a progressive and dynamic zoological park serving Middle Tennessee, southern Kentucky and hundreds of...

Powell Gardens

Botanical Gardens

Powell Gardens

Kingsville, MO

Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s botanical garden, is set on 970 acres of lush, rolling hills. Known for its contemporary...

See More

Related Articles

See More