NEW PALESTINE — Standing at the top of a 12-foot scaffold positioned next to a two story brick building, Mike McEvers was hard at work. With a stencil tool in hand, he was painstakingly laying out a giant depiction, the groundwork for a mural painting of the town.
Officials with New Palestine Main Street, an organization that promotes the town, hired McEvers, an Indianapolis-based artist, to create an eye-catching piece of art near the northeast corner of U.S. 52 and Gem Road.
The idea was to capture some of the sights in town as officials close out a year of celebrating the town’s sesquicentennial.
New Palestine Main Street received a $4,000 grant from the Hancock County Community Foundation’s Public Art Fund to go toward the $8,200 cost, said Julie Lucas, who leads New Palestine Main Street.
The idea to add a mural somewhere in town has been many years in the making, Lucas said.
“We wanted to do something that honored our agriculture heritage and our historical landmarks that we know and love and we’ve done that,” Lucas said.
The mural is taking shape on the west side of the new Elite Beverages building, 120 W. Main St., and showcases local landmarks and the town’s history, including the Bittner Road bridge, the Mary M. Nichols Building on Main Street and the area’s rich farming tradition.
McEvers then picked from the landmarks and created the design for the mural, which will be 19 by 13 feet.
“I’m adding some of the things I thought were important, some of the main attractions in town,” McEvers said.
The artist laughed when asked about the historical location of some of the buildings on the mural and a few of the other highlights he’s focusing on. There is a train going under the town’s bridge and a trolly rolling through town next to a man sitting on a wagon being pulled by a horse.
“We even had him add something on the Interurban (a type of electric railway) which is something a lot of people didn’t even know that we had,” Lucas said.
McEvers noted while everything isn’t exactly located where it is or was in town, the highlights are all there, and the final vision is an artistic account.
McEvers, who has been working on the project daily for weeks, has heard nothing but positive feedback, especially from customers who stop at the liquor store and are curious about his creation.
“The feedback has been 100% positive,” he said.
McEvers has created several historical murals, including one on Main Street in Fortville whose styling is similar. He loves making these types of artwork, watching pieces of the past come to life, he said. McEvers will often change things up as he goes along, but in the end he and the customers are always pleased with the outcome.
“I’ve been doing this long enough that I know what works and what doesn’t,” he said.
McEvers, who has had his worked published throughout the years said, it’s always rewarding for an artist to leave a little of themselves behind in their work.
“The best part of this is when you find people like you who like to do what you do,” he said.
McEvers has artist friends all over the world who do the same type of work, and they often collaborate.
“Marketing myself to a municipality, however, is my interest,” he said.
McEvers started the project in late September after getting approval on his design and hopes to be finished by the end of the month. But, he noted, the cooler weather makes it difficult because paint reacts oddly when temperatures drop.
“It will probably be a six-week project due to weather,” he said.
McEvers has finished the top portion of the mural with the name “New Palestine, 1871-2021,” in large, bold letters easily visible to people driving into town from the the west. He planned to create a wooden shack to protect the lower section as he tries to finish up the mural before November, when more foul weather is likely to hit.