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Jurassic Park meets Star Wars

  • Christian Egbert stands with his acrylic and spray paint masterpiece outside of the Mahoning Drive-In in Lehighton.
    Christian Egbert stands with his acrylic and spray paint masterpiece outside of the Mahoning Drive-In in Lehighton.
  • Egbert used cans of spray paint for the majority of the mural and acrylic for the hand-painted details.
    Egbert used cans of spray paint for the majority of the mural and acrylic for the hand-painted details.
Published May 18. 2017 02:46PM

Moviegoers may have noticed some new artwork on the retro Mahoning Drive-In since its season opening at the end of April.

According to artist Christian Egbert, it took three seasons and a few cases of spray paint and $50 worth of acrylic paint to create the T-Rex in galactic space that covers the front side of the 1948 building located at 635 Seneca Road in Lehighton.

"The idea for the painting came from Jurassic Park meets Star Wars," Egbert said.

"It took a few months and weekends to get it done," he said. "It was my first time painting outside. There were a lot of challenges with snow, rain and the heat," Egbert said of the process.

"A local cop stopped to check and see what I was doing because he thought I was trespassing, and just when I thought I was going to get arrested, he complimented my work."

Egbert was tapped to do the image after meeting the classic drive-in's Virgil Cardamone.

"I was selling painting at Berks Punk Rock Flea Market and he saw my station. I had acrylic on wood. He said, 'If you can paint on wood like that, you can do a wall.'"

"We like supporting local artists," said head projectionist and current owner Jeff Mattox.

"We paid for the supplies but it is his talent on the wall," said Mattox.

Along with moviegoers, the owner is beyond impressed with the finished project.

"Ever since I started here, it's been a single blue, which is typical for a 40s drive-in, but it was so much wall I though something artistic would look good," he said.

"We wanted real artwork on it and Virgil told me he found someone good. We gave it a try, and we liked it," said Mattox.

Egbert started the job after taking a tour of the property.

"I took note of how passionate they are about the drive-in theater and film. I could relate to the emotion behind it," he said.

The now 26-year-old has been painting since he "was a little guy from Bernville."

His hand- and spray-painting technique was developed through practice and talent.

"I went to Berks Career and Technology Center for advertising," Egbert said, but art has always been his personal strength and creative outlet.

"I wasn't good at math, but I was good at art. It didn't strain me. It was very relaxing, and I was enthusiastic about it."

He adds with a laugh, "I'm sure my parents would rather me be normal."

Egbert's father runs a private refrigerator repair business where both his brothers work, while his sister has a "corporate job."

"My siblings are good at art, but they never pursued it," he said.

"I'm the odd one out."

The artist accepts commissioned creative requests of all shapes and sizes from a seven-eyed monster for his nephew, "He wanted something scary enough to scare him, and he doesn't scare easily," to full-size murals and now building facades.

"Ever since I started painting as a business, people have been asking for paintings, especially deceased pet portraits," he said.

The pet paintings were good experience for the painter who was later requested to paint an underwater scene at the Wellness Center for Pets in Strausstown.

"For a commissioned painting, I'll just have them cover the supplies and donate the work," he said.

"My goal is to do at least 100 nonprofits," he said.

Mattox said the artwork has drawn a crowd to the old-fashioned establishment.

"We've seen so many people taking pictures with the dinosaur," he said.

Egbert has been selling prints of his work along with T-shirts at a small stand inside the theater's concession and projection building.

"I thought it was great when it was just an outline," Mattox said.

"I was really pleased with it and would hire him in the future. We do have three more sides of the building," he said.

"Originality is the main staple," said Egbert. "Not being like every other theater was important."

"Art is my main focus. I know there's a lot of possibility in it. You just have to be at the right place at the right time," said Egbert.

For more information about Egbert contact him through Christian_Egbert@hotmail.com or through his Christian Egbert Facebook page.

For more information about the drive-in, visit mahoningdit.com.

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