Four artists are working to make downtown Noblesville a bit brighter.
Becky Hochhalter, Megan Jefferson, Travis Neal and Nekoda Witsken were recently selected through a process conducted by Noblesville Premium Properties and Nickel Plate Arts to paint murals for display on the west and south sides of the former Key Bank building, now known as the Gordon Building, at the northeast quadrant of Ninth and Logan streets.
A total of 12 murals will be created.
“This is a great example of a public/private partnership. The building has kind of the perfect pallet for artwork because it has these panels between the first- and second-floor windows all around the building which are really natural places to display art,” Nickel Plate Arts Executive Director Ailithir McGill said. “We knew our network was strong enough and we had enough public artists pay attention to things we post that we would get a lot of responses.”
A public callout was held in December 2019 and responses were collected through January. Fourteen artists applied.
“Of course, it was really difficult because all the applications were from really talented, very cool people,” McGill said. “The building owners ended up zeroing in on artists who had a style that would best fit Noblesville’s blend of historic and modern.”
Each selected artist’s mural submissions portrayed a different aspect of Noblesville life.
Neal connected with Noblesville as a music venue. His two panels focus on music.
Hochhalter focused on Noblesville as an outdoor recreation destination with Morse Reservoir and the White River. Her three panels focused on water.
Jefferson connected with Noblesville’s agricultural heritage and is working on landscapes for her two murals.
Witsken grew up in Hamilton County, and her five panels will portray Noblesville as a destination for vintage cars and dog walking. Her murals will face Logan Street. The other artists’ murals will be along Ninth Street.
“We wanted to give artists with ties to Noblesville an opportunity to showcase their work and inject some creativity into the downtown cityscape,” stated Darren Ratcliffe, president of Noblesville Premium Properties, which owns the Gordon Building. “When our family purchased the former Key Bank building, we envisioned murals surrounding the building that would contrast the old with the new.”
The artists have already started working on their murals. Some of the pieces are finished.
“They have started painting and some already have panels done,” McGill said. “We are hoping to install them by the end of the month.”
The panels are designed to last three years. McGill said the process likely will be repeated depending on how the murals look and how the building owners feel.
“We may replace all or some,” she said. “The original idea was for it to be a rotating public art project, with each round living three to five years.”
Nickel Plate Art paid the artists professional rates. The project cost approximately $10,000, and artists were paid per square foot of work.
For more, visit nickelplatearts.org.
Encouraging all artists
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Nickel Plate Arts is trying to encourage residents to network and connect through the projects they are completing during isolation.
“We have lots of resources,” Nickel Plate Arts Executive Director Ailithir McGill said. “On the Facebook page, we are posting live content every day at 1 and 6 p.m. from local artists, musicians and writers talking about what they’re doing or giving a lesson or a demo online. We really want to encourage that overall.”
McGill said watching the mural project on the Gordon Building take shape even during the pandemic is rewarding.
“It is exciting that public art can continue even through a period of social distancing,” she said. “These artists work in isolation most of the time, anyway, and the project was designed for them to take the panels back to their houses and paint them there. We worked really hard to connect these artists with each other throughout the project.”