The ribbon was cut on the downtown Crawfordsville alley mural on Saturday, with local officials lauding the artwork as a colorful draw to the heart of the county.
New York City artist Jenna Morello’s creation, which adorns the side of the Milligan’s Flowers & Gifts building on East Main Street, measures 144 feet long and 25 feet tall and depicts native Indiana wildflowers that change colors along the wall.
“I want to just kind of keep walking toward the end of this alley because the way that the mural works, it just kind of draws you in that direction with the colors,” said Pat Corey, vice president of engagement at the Wabash Heartland Innovation Network, which provided the initial funding for the project, speaking at a rainy dedication ceremony.
WHIN partnered with the Tippecanoe Arts Federation to install murals in 10 western Indiana counties, with residents in each county enlisted to select the artists. The Montgomery County Community Foundation appointed a seven-person committee that chose Morello from a list of national artists who submitted proposals.
The committee was made up of Brandy Allen, Crawfordsville Planning and Community Development director; Kitty Haffner, local volunteer; Diana McCormick, Athens Arts Gallery director; Sue Lucas, Crawfordsville Main Street program manager; Sarah Storms, MCCF communications and scholarship director; Heather Shirk, Visit Montgomery County director; and Cheryl Keim, MCCF grants and community relations director.
Lucas said the mural sends a message that the community is becoming more vibrant.
“It welcomes people to come downtown to walk, discover and explore what downtown Crawfordsville has to offer,” she said after the mural was dedicated.
Mayor Todd Barton said the project is “exactly what we’ve been talking about” in creating a quality of place in the city.
“Just by show of applause, how many think that Jenna should become a Crawfordsville resident?” Barton said, drawing cheers from the small crowd of people gathered in the alley, joking, “I’m going to hook you up with a real estate agent before you leave today.”
“I hope I left you guys with something that you can enjoy after I leave,” Morello said, “and I might not move here, but hopefully I will come back and be able to paint you guys some other thing.”
She thanked the volunteers who provided her meals and Wabash College for her lodging. A list of local companies provided equipment for the project.
“I think that’s what’s special about our community,” said Kelly Taylor, CEO of MCCF. “We have a lot of generous people that jump in and really want to help and make this community a better place.
For Milligan’s owner Susan Rosen, the freshly-painted flowers were a nice touch to her business.
“I couldn’t ask for any better,” she said.
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