Last week, I had the delightful pleasure of shepherding the creation of two public art murals in the Fishers District. These murals are the result of more than a year of investment, planning and development with Thompson Thrift, the real estate company that developed the property.
Thompson Thrift didn’t want the Fishers District to feel like just another set of sterile, new buildings – they wanted to show that this is a space where exciting things are happening and where the community is invited to come together to celebrate and relax.
To achieve this, they wanted to hire a group of artists who represented different backgrounds and art styles, and they ended up selecting four very talented artists – three from central Indiana and one from Wyoming!
The first mural, called “Thanks for Being Weird With Me” is by Nekoda Witsken of Hue Murals. Nekoda is a graduate of HSE and also happens to have created the very first public art mural commissioned by Fishers – her original mural used to be in the Pocket Park near Handel’s and will soon be re-installed in another park in Fishers!
“Thanks for Being Weird With Me” shows off Nekoda’s beautiful use of colors and the blending abstract and realistic images, and celebrates friendship: aren’t we all grateful for that one friend who loves our weird quirks? This mural is on the Verizon Wireless building and makes a great photo-op!
The second mural is by Dan Toro, a very talented artist from Wyoming. Dan drove for over 10 hours to come to Fishers to complete this mural and it took him about 5 days to paint, dodging thunderstorms and wind. His mural on the Sun King building doesn’t yet have a title, and it shows off Dan’s incredible ability to trick the eye by creating realistic 3-D effects with spray paint!
The mural celebrates some of Indiana’s beloved iconography, including our state tree (the Tulip), our state bird (the cardinal), and, of course, corn, which used to fill the property that Sun King now occupies. The dark blue background mimics our state flag, and if you look really closely, you’ll find an homage to our racing heritage – there is a checker pattern finish line on either side of the curve.
The next two murals will be created later this summer in the parking garage structure. One mural will be by Travis Neal, who also recently painted the “In This Together” mural at Brooks School Park. The other will be by Megan Jefferson, who has created many murals around Indianapolis. Their designs are still in progress, and we can’t wait for them to be able to get started!
My job on this project was to be support for both Thompson Thrift and the artists involved. I helped Thompson Thrift review and select artists, develop contracts, negotiate designs, and spread the word about these projects. I have also helped the artists coordinate their schedules and make sure that they had what they need to work safely and efficiently. I admit that it wasn’t always easy – this project has taken about 6 months longer than we predicted, due to conflicts with construction schedules, the early onset of cold weather, and, of course, COVID-19, but I think the wait has been well-worth it.
The two finished murals are already doing exactly what good public art is supposed to do: they are delighting people, defining a sense of place, and encouraging people to enjoy and think about their surroundings. The two murals yet to come are sure to do the same thing, and, I hope, get Fishers residents’ hungry for even more public art! We’re here to help continue to make Fishers a gorgeous, unique and vibrant place: all we need are spaces to create and partners eager to let artists be weird & wonderful!
Aili McGill is the Executive Director of Nickel Plate Arts and has served the Fishers Community for 8 years in her current role. Her favorite things to do in Fishers include hanging out at Ignite at the Fishers library, eating at Puccini’s, and shopping at Gallery 116. Her hobbies include gardening, pets, drawing and performing improv. She’s also published a children’s book called The Owl and the Pussycat Went to Sea. What she loves most about Fishers is the city’s growth & vitality, and the opportunities to try new things, create new things, and explore new things around every corner. She and her fiancé plan to get married this fall. Follow her on Instagram at @ailithiromcgill.