Mural Art in Indianapolis

Murals - Outside Public Art
Some say that street art is the most exciting of all graphic art. It has taken several years of wandering the streets of Indianapolis and, when least expecting it, turning a corner and encountering a beautiful piece of art, to appreciate the number and variety of murals in our city. Sharing this experience is the main reason for this article on outside public art which is also in many respects outsider art.
Almost all street art is short-lived, either painted over, destroyed when the building is removed, or simply succumbing to the elements and to deterioration. So documentation becomes another purpose of photographing and writing about mural art.
Since mural art had some of its beginnings in advertising, the first section of the book is about old signs that are still around and ghost signs that are fading but still visible. Some recent signs that are unusual or illustrate an artistic treatment of an advertising theme are also discussed.
The sign at 16th and College advertises a popular soft drink, and a mural at 707 Massachusetts Avenue advertises cereal. Although these murals are very old, these products are still around, and it's interesting to see how their marketing has evolved.
The second very contemporary mural is in Broad Ripple on the Monon Trail, just south of Broad Ripple Avenue. It was painted by Artists Joshua Wells and Dan Thompson of PaintSubsurface in 2006 and advertises a restaurant on the trail using a wave. It is reminiscent of Katsushika Hokusai's famous painting, but this one contains cups, saucers, and sodas. Very cool! Mural styles and influences from other artists and art traditions, is a subject I found most interesting. Muralists apparently build on the work of their predecessors, and their work tends to reflect current artistic trends.
Another example of an old advertising, mural which has recently been beautifully redone, is on Pendleton Pike near Franklin Road and adorns a German restaurant that has been family owned for more than thirty-five years. The restaurant offers a unique cultural dining experience as well as scrumptious baked goods from its bakery, and imported food and gift items that can't be found anywhere else in the city. The newly painted mural is a work of art more than advertising, showing scenes from the German countryside.
A final example of the beginnings of mural art in advertising can be found on Indiana Ave., now Martin Luther King Boulevard near 26th street. Piggy speaks for himself on this restaurant saying, "Best in the World since 1962". This mural is near the Indiana Avenue Cultural District which was the home of jazz in Indianapolis for many decades and still boasts the Madame Walker Theater.
The community mural movement, which started in the late 1960's, produced hundreds upon hundreds of large scale wall paintings in less than a decade. They were concentrated in major cities, but almost every city had a few, including Indianapolis. These were sparked by the civil rights movement, labor movements, the Chicano movement, and community development programs. Hispanic muralists such as Diego Rivera, Clemente Orozco, David Sequeiros, and Arnold Belkin influenced the style and content of these murals. They were also influenced by graffiti and by advertising art.
Murals with a message describes some ambitious community murals such as, "The Street of Dreams". It is located in the Watkins Park Family Center and includes portraits of many of the well known jazz artists in the city such as David Baker, Cheryl Hayes, and Jimmy Coe. The equally talented muralists who painted this and many other murals relating to the community mural movement are Barbara Stahl, Carol Tharp-Perrin, Larry Ginhardt and Lawrence Clark IIII. In Indianapolis, many of these murals are gone, but a few can still be seen in city parks. A mural in Douglass Park on the near east side celebrates one of the foremost leaders of the abolitionist movement, which fought to end slavery in the United States before the Civil War.
An interesting and unique example of mural art is still visible near 38th and College. Clayton Hamilton's Message Wall has posted community related messages and political commentary for years. He changes the wall frequently. Some examples include, "Vote out Greed, Lies, and Secrecy" and "Our Vote Mattered...Power to the People in '06 and '08!"
A mural commemorating the U.S.S. Indianapolis by Cynthia Walden, painted in 2002, is located under the New York street bridge over the canal in downtown Indianapolis and shows the ship superimposed on an American Flag with the caption "Freedom isn't Free.
The final section of this article deals with murals in churches and schools and in various neighborhoods of the city. It covers outside murals only, as their are numerous inside murals in public schools and in many places of worship.
An unusual and unsolicited work of mural art can be seen at east 10th and Sherman Drive beneath the underpass. It was painted by Tami Lannom and intended to beautify the neighborhood and inspire with its message, "Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it." Her message seemed to encourage many other artists in this area, resulting in the painting of other exceptional wall art. With the attention to development being paid to this neighborhood because of the city's hosting of the Superbowl in 2012, many more can be expected. The other neighborhoods in the city can boast similar mural achievements.
There are also numerous murals on the Monon Trail and in the city's newly designated cultural districts including, Broad Ripple, Indiana Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue, Fountain Square, Downtown and Wholesale District, and the Canal District. Street art and graffiti, Eli Lilly & Company's Global Service Day murals, and new murals planned for sprucing up the city for the Super Bowl in 2012 add to the mix. Please comment if you have seen any murals that are newly painted or have any favorite murals that you would like to know more about. Thanks and "keep painting"!.

No comments:

Post a Comment