Civic League members overwhelmed by response to mural
Dating back to its earliest days of beautifying and cleaning up the city, one of the Greencastle Civic League's signature projects was the planting of flowers around the city.
In the last week the flower planting has returned in a sense with volunteers from the Civic League and Greencastle Arts Council painting a floral mural on the north wall of Eitel's & Co. Florist at 17 S. Vine St.
Starting with a dim outline on Friday, Oct. 16, the project began to really explode with color mid-week as volunteers continued to "paint Greencastle happy," in the words of one observer.
With the goal of bringing beauty and art to the city, the project is the brainchild of Civic League Vice President Amy Welch, who has been overwhelmed by the response to her "giant-sized coloring page of whimsical flowers."
"This whole experience has been wild for me," Welch told the Banner Graphic. "I've met so many people. I couldn't sleep the other night because I was so emotional."
A transplant from upstate New York whose day job is associate director of the DePauw University Honor Scholar Program, Welch and her family have lived in Greencastle since 2007. However, nothing, not even her Civic League membership, has put her in touch with the Greencastle community quite like this mural.
"We've had so many guest artists who've just responded on Facebook and said, 'Can I come paint?'" Welch said.
The volunteers have been happy to oblige, allowing a number of people, not just Civic League and Arts Council members, to take part in the oversized painting.
"I was really surprised at how much of an impact people have let this become," Welch said. "The whole experience has been so heartwarming and uplifting."
Along with the sense of community, Welch is also enjoying the gratification of having her art seen on such a large canvas.
"I'm no artist. I'm a college administrator," she said. "I just like to doodle and dabble, and they've let me doodle and dabble in such a big, big way."
The labor of love has also dominated a week of Welch's life otherwise known as fall break.
The mural design was projected onto the wall in the evening hours last Friday using an overhead projector. Several hours of tracing the design led to Saturday's bold outline drawn on by paint rollers and brushes.
Since then, the week has featured volunteers adding beautiful pops of color, turning what was once a plain taupe wall into a vibrant piece of art.
Of course, the project didn't just emerge from out of nowhere. The physical work of painting the wall followed six months of planning, creating multiple versions of the mural design, gaining city approval and navigating the Vine Street construction project.
Now it appears the Vine Street construction and the Eitel's mural will be completed within a week of each other, with the streetscape project set to conclude by the end of October.
Besides the official and unofficial volunteer painters, the mural is a credit to a number of other people.
The project would not be possible without the support of Jenny and Kent Sullivan, owners of Eitel's & Co. Florist, or of the Eitel family, owners of the building. Nor would it be possible without the donations of paint from Headley Hardware and a lift from Jerry Lewis of Greencastle Heavy Equipment.
Others who have helped with behind-the-scenes and installation work include Felling & Felling Law Offices, local artist Mark Nicklasch and Taylor Made Awards.
With the overwhelming response, the Civic League is now considering more murals around the city. President Kate Knaul said members began the project with an excitement, but also reservations, not knowing what the public reaction would be.
"Since we started this, we've had a handful of requests to do more," Knaul said.
For now, though, one mural is a start. The Civic League has always had a goal of beautifying Greencastle, and the last week has seen that mission accomplished, at least for 480 square feet of downtown brick wall.
The Greencastle Civic League's purpose is the beautification, clean up, cultural development, and general improvement of life in Greencastle. The organization sponsors annual clean-up of city roads and the Fair Parade route, supports floral plantings around the courthouse square, and convenes the summer Parkfest music series.
Past major projects include support for the purchase of a fire truck by the Greencastle Fire Department, the building of Emerald Palace at Robe-Ann Park, and the building of the Bob York Memorial Splash Park at Greencastle Aquatic Center.