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Westfield Artist Shows Off Her Love for Whitney

Larissa DePalma flies her flag at half-mast and drapes her handmade portrait to show respect for the late pop icon.

Some Westfield residents have complained about the hoopla surrounding the burial of music icon Whitney Houston at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield.

But one resident insists that despite limited access to the cemetery this weekend, road closures in the area and the media spotlight all over town, Houston's choice of Westfield for her final resting place is worth any potential inconvenience. And she's making her support for the late superstar visible for all to see.

On the front lawn of freelance artist Larissa DePalma's home on St. Mark's Ave., a U.S. flag stands at half-mast. The house itself features a banner with a drawing of Houston's face in black ink, along with a message:  RIP Whitney.

"I'm an '80s girl," DePalma explained. "With Whitney being buried right near here, I had to do something. She's from New Jersey."

She said she is happy Houston will find her eternal rest at Fairview.

"This is exciting," she said. "Very sad, but exciting."

She noted that she has relatives buried at the cemetery and wanted to pay tribute to the singer.

"You never know if the family will drive by and see it. If they do, I want them to see that Whitney was appreciated," DePalma said. "She was just so beautiful, and her voice... She gave a lot to all of us through her songs."

Asked whether she expects her artwork to garner attention, DePalma demurred.

"If that happens, great. But this wasn't about that. I really just wanted to show my thanks and my sympathy to the family," she said, adding that self-promotion is not her strong suit. "If anybody gets enjoyment out of it, that's what matters to me."

DePalma said she understands the frustrations voiced by some fellow Westfielders, but said the restrictions are a small price to pay when one thinks of all Houston achieved through her career.

Next up for the artist is seeing "The Bodyguard," Houston's first film, for the first time since its 1992 release.

"I have to watch it! She was just so gorgeous with that absolutely perfect face and that perfect voice," DePalma said. "Having my brother and my father buried in the same place as somebody so famous is a great thing."

Laura Nugent February 20, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Lovely way to honor her! I too am a child of the 80's and Whitney's music was always playing in my car or bedroom! I loved her too...she was an icon! I was deeply saddend to hear of her passing. She accomplished so much, so fast and that fame is probably what did her in. She couldn't help herself in these last years of her life. They say that is part of addiction. But lets all remember she was human! She brought so much joy to so many through her music. Let's celebrate her angelic voice...it was one in a million! I too found it very exciting to know she will be resting in Westfield. I live about 5 minutes from there and can go visit her and pay my respects whenever I want. RIP Whitney....we will always remember you!
Pamela Eagan February 20, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Larisa, Your gesture is as beautiful as Whitney - thoughtful and loving!
Monk February 21, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Well, I suppose ... But it seems like some sort of commentary on society that so many people live vicariously in the world of pop culture. One person's idea of honoring is just cartoonish caricature to someone else.
REGINA NIX February 21, 2012 at 08:19 PM
absolutely magnificent!!! u go girl!!!

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