Artist creates historic fresco highlighting 150th anniversary of New Palestine


A large mural is being painted on the side of the new Elite Beverages building in the heart of New Palestine. Mike McEvers, owner of Sign Art Studio & Mural in Fortville, created and painted the mural. (Tom Russo | Daily reporter)

NEW PALESTINE – Standing atop a 12-foot scaffolding placed next to a two-story brick building, Mike McEvers worked hard. With a stencil in his hand, he painstakingly drew up a giant representation, the basis of a mural of the city.

Officials at New Palestine Main Street, an organization that promotes the city, hired McEvers, an Indianapolis-based artist, to create an eye-catching piece of art near the northeast corner of US 52 and Gem Road.

The idea was to capture some of the city’s sights as authorities wrap up a year of celebration of the city’s 150th anniversary.

New Palestine Main Street received a $ 4,000 grant from the Hancock County Community Foundation Public Art Fund to cover the cost of $ 8,200, said Julie Lucas, who runs New Palestine Main Street.

The idea of ​​adding a mural somewhere in town has been in the works for many years, Lucas said.

“We wanted to do something that honors our agricultural heritage and our historic monuments that we know and love and we did,” Lucas said.

The mural takes shape on the west side of the new Elite Beverages building, 120 W. Main St., and features local landmarks and city history, including the Bittner Road Bridge, the Mary M. Nichols Building on Main Street and the district with a rich agricultural tradition.

McEvers then chose from the landmarks and created the design for the mural, which will measure 19 feet by 13 feet.

“I’m adding some of the things that I thought were important, some of the main attractions in the city,” McEvers said.

The artist laughed when asked the historical location of some of the buildings in the fresco and some of the other highlights he focuses on. There is a train passing under the city bridge and a cart passing through the city next to a man sitting on a horse drawn cart.

“We even asked him to add something on the Interurban (a type of electric railroad), which a lot of people didn’t even know we had,” Lucas said.

McEvers noted that while not everything is exactly located where it is or was in town, the highlights are all there and the final vision is an artistic narrative.

McEvers, who has been working on the project daily for weeks, has heard nothing but positive comments, especially from customers who stop by the liquor store and are curious about it.

“The feedback has been 100% positive,” he said.

McEvers has made several historic murals, including one on Main Street in Fortville that is similar in style. He loves creating this type of artwork, watching pieces from the past come to life, he said. McEvers will often change things over time, but in the end, he and the customers are always happy with the outcome.

“I’ve been doing this long enough to know what works and what doesn’t,” he said.

McEvers, who has published his work over the years, said it’s always gratifying for an artist to leave a little bit of himself in his work.

“The best part about it is when you find people like you who enjoy doing what you do,” he said.

McEvers has artist friends all over the world who do the same type of work, and they often collaborate.

“However, selling myself to a municipality is in my interest,” he said.

McEvers started the project at the end of September after obtaining approval for its design and hopes to be completed by the end of the month. But, he noted, the cooler weather makes things difficult as the paint reacts strangely when temperatures drop.

“It will probably be a six week project due to the weather,” he said.

McEvers finished the top of the mural with the name “New Palestine, 1871-2021,” in large, bold letters easily visible to people arriving in town from the west. He planned to create a log cabin to protect the lower section as he tried to finish the mural before November, when the worst weather is likely to strike.

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