EVANSVILLE — An alley off Main Street next to Innovation Pointe has become a popular Downtown photo-taking spot, so Abby Elpers thought it would be an ideal place for public art celebrating the community.
Her idea came in a dream.
"I’m not making this up," said Elpers, marketing and communications manager with Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville, whose office is in Innovation Pointe. "I hit the snooze button when I should have been getting up for work. And then I had this dream that the city let me turn the alley at Innovation Pointe into the 'self-E' alley, dedicated to art that was Evansville-themed and celebrated our community."
Selfie walls adorn alleyways and exterior business walls across the world with features including wings, graphic images, inspirational messages and more.
GAGE President Ellen Horan and Mayor Lloyd Winnecke loved Elpers' idea. She worked with Evansville Public Art Commission Chairwoman Sarah Schuler on getting necessary approvals.
Then they connected with Chandler, Indiana, artist Michael Smith, whose work is on the town square in Boonville and in several area schools.
The mural design is a recreation of a vintage "Greetings from Evansville" postcard, with new images inside letters spelling the city's name.
Images are of the Four Freedoms monument, Bosse Field, the West Side Nut Club Fall Festival, a tiger from Mesker Park Zoo, the Old Courthouse, fireworks over the Ohio River, campus views of UE and USI, the Children's Museum of Evansville and Mickey's Kingdom.
The mural also shows a Main Street arch over a doorway, which is meant to be an ideal photo-taking spot, Lighting is planned at the alley's entrance, and Elpers said she's hopeful some signage promoting the mural can be placed around Downtown.
The mural is to be done in about two weeks, weather permitting.
GAGE is funding the mural with a $5,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. The money originally was to be a prize for the winner of a restaurant development contest Downtown.
"The money was to be used for Downtown improvements, and because that contest didn’t work out, we had the money and could do this," Elpers said.
Smith was eager to take the project on. The owner of Orange Moon Art Studio is a life-long artist who served in the Air Force for four years.
"This is mural No. 108 in this region, within two hours of where we're standing," Smith said.
His early work on the mural has gotten attention. Some have stopped by saying they plan to use the mural on their Christmas cards this year, he said.
Elpers would like to see the entire alley wall at Innovation Pointe painted with bursts of color.
"The plan is to keep going down the alley, but we'll have to figure out the funding along the way," she said.