Painting the towns

Local history and culture told at a glance

Posted on May 24 2022 in Features

“If these walls could only talk …,” the old saying goes. Well, in a lot of cities, small towns, and rural communities across Indiana, walls do talk. They tell proud stories of local history, traditions, faith, culture, and of a vibrant arts community bursting with expression — painted not in words but through large publicly displayed murals.

Some of the murals are community projects. Some are done by a local artist or group, or school art classes; some are created by national or even international muralists invited in, sometimes in tandem with the community. Some murals take passersby back to another time. Some point with pride to local heroes and products. Some just express color and whimsical joy to brighten up an otherwise dull building. But all seem to offer a glimpse into the community to which they are attached. 

Indiana Connection asked readers to share images of their favorite murals which, in the last decade or two, especially, have blossomed across the state like wildflowers in June. We received over 70 images, some along with short stories about why they were submitted.  

Readers whose submissions we included here received $50. We also randomly selected the name of one reader who submitted a photo for $50, too. That reader was Becky Souder of Warren.

Transco mural

Location: Transco Railway Building, Logansport, Indiana

Submitted by Betty Dotlich, Grovertown, Indiana

“I’m quite proud of my son who paints murals. (Anthony Brooks is an international muralist.) He has painted in other towns in Indiana and in several other countries, but this is my favorite of his works. This mural is huge — as the building is five stories tall. He completed this painting in less than two weeks from start to finish. I am still amazed and love to watch him work!”

Kindness mural

Location: Mulberry Street, Madison, Indiana

Submitted by Patricia Daugherty, Loogootee, Indiana

”This mural encompasses an entire block, with the ‘Kindness’ portion being the main focus and the largest and tallest portion. The 180-foot mural depicts a river theme. A project of the Madison Area Arts Alliance, … the goal was to beautify the Mulberry Street area and to present a strong message of hope and kindness. It definitely is an eye catcher.”

Paoli Post Office Mural

Location: U.S. Post Office, Paoli, Indiana

Submitted by Glenda Ferguson, Paoli, Indiana

“‘Rural Mail Carrier,’ painted by Tom Rost in 1939, was part of the New Deal’s Public Works of Arts Program. Rost painted a scene with the carrier delivering mail by horse and buggy; the Orange County Courthouse is in the distance. This mural is one of only 36 [post office works] created in Indiana during the New Deal.”

Bison mural in Osgood

Location: Town Park, Osgood, Indiana

Submitted by Sheryl Ziegler, Columbus, Indiana 

“What I really like about this mural is how the actual path in the park appears to continue right into the mural. The artist did an incredible job of making the transition look so seamless. The mural itself is beautiful as well along with the bison statue and the history of the bison in our state.”

Monroeville mural

Location: Indiana 101 and Main Street, Monroeville, Indiana

Submitted by Gil and Cheri Bearman, Hoagland, Indiana

“We like this mural because it is historical and beautiful!”

(Mural artist Amy Buchs is a retired art teacher who specializes in painting. She and her art classes have painted multiple murals around Allen and DeKalb counties.)

Courthouse Plaza 2

Location: Court House Plaza Bluffton, Indiana

Submitted by Beverly Hart, Markle, Indiana

“This mural was painted by Portland, Oregon, artist David Rice who often features flora and fauna in his work. He incorporated irises and an oriole, both common to this area of Northeast Indiana. I love the theme and the colors of this striking mural and appreciate that more and more small towns are recipients of public art like this beautiful mural available to everyone.”

Location: Fowler, Indiana

Submitted by Beverly Hackley, Fowler, Indiana

“This picture is not painted on a building but on a windmill blade that was defective and could not be used. It was moved to the area near the Benton County Annex Building. People can see it up close and also see its size. Benton County is very protective and proud of the blade with the two beautiful pheasants. We are a rural county with small towns. Pheasants are seen along roadsides and fields.”

Location: Batesville Primary School, Batesville, Indiana

Submitted by Rachael Berkemeier, Greensburg, Indiana

“This is a mural in the process of creation at Batesville Primary School. Each student in the school during the school year helped place mosaics into the mural. The end result is a colorful butterfly made interactive by a person standing to create the middle of the butterfly. The mosaic artist was Vicky Murphy, and it was completed in Spring 2019. Laura Gilland, BPS art teacher, and I were coordinators for BPS Arts in Education funds provided by the Batesville Area Arts Council. Laura organized this project for the school.”

Location: Ohio County Tourism Visitors Center, Rising Sun, Indiana

Submitted by Kendal Miller, Rising Sun, Indiana

“The hand mural was a community project spearheaded by local artist Amberly King, a Rising Sun-Ohio County Schools art teacher. Funding for the project came from a grant secured by the City of Rising Sun with partial funding from Ohio County Tourism. With the help of her art students, Ms. King drew the outline for the mural and local residents/businesses were asked to join her to paint individual squares. Youths and adults painted everything from scenes, their names, to favorite sports team.”

Location: Downtown Auburn, Indiana

Submitted by Bill Schlemmer, Claypool, Indiana

“This mural commemorates Auburn’s history as an automobile manufacturing town. The mural was designed and painted by Amy Buchs who was assisted by Dave Schlemmer.”

Batesville Butterfly Mural

On The June Cover

Mural artist Kelsey Montague seemingly releases a profusion of butterflies to the delight of Paul Satchwill. The international muralist created two murals in Batesville in 2019. Satchwill is a board member of the Batesville Area Arts Council, one of the driving forces behind the murals made possible through civic organizations and donations.

Bonus Content

Here are some other mural entries received from readers that, unfortunately, couldn’t make it into the pages of the magazine.

Submitted by Sheryl Ziegler, Columbus

Location: Old Napoleon State Bank building at the intersection of Highway 421 and Highway 229 in Napoleon.

This building was replaced by a new bank building in 1979 and this location has been used in several different capacities since then.  What I like most about this picture is the old “burglar alarm” that has been preserved over the years.  Also, the depiction of customers coming and going from an era gone by.  The new bank building that was erected across the street is depicted at the top of the picture.  

Submitted by Luke Flowers, Ferdinand

Location: Downtown French Lick

Pluto is a character you can find all around French Lick. It stems from the natural spring dubbed “Pluto’s well”. Pluto being the Roman god of the underworld.

Submitted by Kristy Fuller, Charlestown

Location: Speed Park, Sellersburg

Henryville Jr./Sr. High School art teacher Hsiao-Ling Gardner made many kids dreams come to life by painting outlines with her students on the park’s only permanent building and encouraging kids to paint in the designs with their own creativity during the “Art in the Speed Park” art show. 

What I like most about this mural is that there were many little hands working together to create this artwork to be enjoyed by anyone who comes to the Speed Park. My own children painted a piece of the mural and it is a fun memory that can be shared with all.

Submitted by Valerie Wilcox, Roann

Location: Ice Cream Vault, Andrews

The title of the mural is Farmyard Hoedown. This is so fun and unexpected , it can only make you smile.

Submitted by Stephen Emely, Markle

Location: West Morse Street and Clark Street, Markle

The mural serves as an advertisement for the business called “The Pickle”. The business is a locally owned and operated restaurant and bar since 2005. The mural was painted within the last several years by then owners, Jonathon and Tracy Goetz. The mural helps to remind us of our farming community heritage and also a place to relax, eat and enjoy the company of friends.

Submitted by Linda Sherfick, Shoals

Location: Shoals Community Schools

This mural, titled “Our Hoosier Home”, was painted at the Shoals Community Schools in 2016. Coinciding with Indiana’s centennial celebration, the artwork was funded with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Indiana Arts Commission, and generous donations from local businesses and residents.

The Artist-in-Residence, Susan Dailey, designed the mural and led a talented team of community volunteers, students, and staff in its painting. Student models posed for the mural, and submitted the pictures of local landscapes used in the background.

The mural depicts the journey of education, with an emphasis on literacy. The log cabin symbolizes the humble beginnings of the central iconic figure of Abraham Lincoln, who received his early education in Indiana. Local images depicted include Hindostan Falls, the Bateman School, the former courthouse (now county historical museum) built in 1876, and the Jug Rock. Students also researched Martin County history in order to gain a better understanding of their community’s past.

What is special about this mural was the energy, collaboration, and enthusiasm among artists and students that made it a success. The mural generated an appreciation for the visual arts in our school and community. It also highlights the importance of the arts in our schools.

Submitted by Elizabeth Moss, Zionsville

Location: Zionsville Middle School

This mural is located in Zionsville. It’s on a wall inside the middle school. I really like the eagles in this mural. Eagles represent freedom, strength, leadership and loyalty. All of these traits can be found in the school, in our town, and in this state. And the baby eagles in the nest are so cute!

Submitted by Shari Caldwell, Aurora

Location: Downtown Aurora

Aurora’s first steam engine fire truck. The building as been many things in its lifetime. It was a furniture factory and a dealer for International Harvester. The original steam engine was donated to the city by Thomas Gaff, founder of the Gaff Distillery in Aurora. It is now on display at the Cincinnati Fire Museum. I love the history of the picture and how it can be seen by the traffic on the Ohio River.