Newest mural unveiled

Bill Rethlake | Daily NewsChamber of Commerce representatives, students, educators and others celebrated Tuesday’s unveiling of a new mural in Rebekah Park created by members of the Greensburg Community High School Art Club as part of the “Artis-Tree initiative, a Greensburg beautification effort spearheaded by the Arts and Culture Council of Decatur County, the Main Street organization and the Chamber of Commerce.

GREENSBURG — Decatur County-Greensburg Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jeff Emsweller, Director of the Arts and Cultural Council David Fry, Chamber board members, students and community leaders gathered Tuesday to unveil the newest Greensburg enrichment project, a mural on the former admittance garage for the the Odd Fellows Home at Rebekah Park.

The effort spanned nearly 10 months and involved the Greensburg Community High School Art Club facilitated by GCHS art teacher Dustin Smith. The mural depicts red-winged black birds on cat-tails in an impressionistic setting, perfect for the natural environs recent Rebekah Park enrichment projects have created.

Describing the building on which the mural is painted as the last remaining structure of the former Odd Fellows Home and Senior Citizens Center that was razed in the late ‘70s, Fry welcomed guests to the unveiling and later invited them to a cookies and punch reception at City Hall afterward.

“A few years ago, the Arts Council reached out into the community and asked what they would like us to do more of,” Fry told the assemblage. “And we heard a lot of ‘public art’ responses. So we cooperated, getting ideas with Main Street Greensburg downtown. We placed a chainsaw sculpture named Barkley at the new dog park, and now we’re pleased to highlight the talent of high school students in this latest mural here in Greensburg, which really adds to the quality of life here.”

“You also notice that we’ve issued a call for artists to design panels for the limestone benches downtown in cooperation with the Main Street project, and we’re extremely excited about that project,” Fry continued. “We ask artists to submit ideas for that project, and the deadline for that project is June 30,” he continued. “But let’s focus today on the outstanding work the students have created in cooperation with us. We’ll be adding a plaque at the bottom of this mural that will recognize all the students who participated in it, and we really appreciate their work that will be highlighted for years to come.”

Smith then addressed the crowd, thanking them for attending. He noted to size of the crowd, saying it was was bigger then he expected, and explained how when the Rebekah Park project began.

Smith said he was excited to claim it for the Art Club, noting its convenient location adjacent to the high school and the setting and construction of the wall in question.

“We jumped at the opportunity. Our original intent was to finish it in the fall, but the weather and the cold didn’t cooperate,” he explained.

Smith said the winter months gave his students time to reexamine their design, and that the final design was one they were very happy with.

“I don’t know exactly how many hours this group put into it, but I wager it to be roughly 160 manhours that were required for these students to complete the mural,” he said. “These kids put in a lot of hours to complete this, and it was all after-school volunteer hours. There was a lot of leg cramping from being on ladders, some sun burns, and a lot of rain, so it took us awhile to complete it, but I hope everyone thinks it was worth it because we are really happy with it!”

The students involved with the mural were Alyssa Vasquez, Johana Benitez-Xiqui, Jaden Marsh, Meghan Stapp, Dani England, Becca Harmon, Patsy Olds, Cassie Kramer, Kaelyn Spears, Claire Burford, Kami Taylor and Emily Rosales.

Smith described the process by which he and his students arrived at the final design for the mural.

“We sat down over the space of several weeks to come up with several designs. We voted on them and picked elements from this one and that one and came up with the design, but we didn’t like it,” he explained. “So, we took our time and found a design we did like.”

Wanting to develop a design that was color appropriate for the red brick building upon which it is painted, red cardinals were first chosen as the subject.

“We had a lot of time to second guess ourselves, but in the end this design was a much better idea. It’s much more impressionistic than the original design, and this one has much more depth. I’m very pleased,” Smith said.

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-5660 or email at bill.rethlake@greensburgdailynews.com.