After four years in the making, the Mulberry Murals are now a reality, and Saturday was a time to celebrate the meaning and beauty of their completion.
“This is a remarkable achievement during a remarkable time,” said Randy Lakeman, president of the Madison Area Arts Alliance, noting that not even a pandemic could prevent the project from reaching fruition with a message of “Kindness” that’s particularly meaningful during this challenging era. The Mulberry Murals, located on the walls around the parking lot in the northeast corner of Mulberry and Second streets, carry a message of kindness and acceptance while sharing scenes and stories related to Madison and Jefferson County on five murals that include work from more than 20 local artists.
Lakeman noted the project was funded by 160 donors along with many in-kind donations of paints, materials and more. In particular, Lakeman expressed appreciation to Lisa Lumpford, owner of the former Hentz Bakery building at 316 Mulberry Street, and Steve Lyons, owner of the Jefferson County Amusement building at 213 East Second Street, for allowing the Madison Area Arts Alliance to use the spaces on the sides of their buildings for the murals.
“I love this town so much,” said Paige Sharp, deputy director of programs of the Indiana Arts Commission. “When I’m in Madison, I feel I’m in a fun bubble,” she added citing not only the Madison Area Arts Alliance, but also the Madison Music Movement and the Historic District. She loves the theme of “Kindness” that’s so much a part of the murals, beginning with the 180-foot, two- and one-half story Kindness Mural.
Sharp had high praise for all involved in “making this magic happen.” She said the vibrancy of all that’s happening in Madison is “why you’re one of the state’s 12 cultural districts,” a recognition that was given to Madison in 2015. “We are so proud of what you’re doing here,” she said.
The mural project is the largest public arts project ever done by the Madison Area Arts Alliance. The work moved forward through the support of many donors and volunteers, but also by a CreatINg Places grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) through the Patronicity platform. “We’re so proud to have supported this project,” said Bridget Anderson, director at Patronicity.
“We are honored to have worked with all of you on a project like this” that’s making such an outstanding contribution to the community, said Rylan Hamlett, placemaking and environmental review manager for the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.
Madison Mayor Bob Courtney also praised the Mulberry Murals, noting projects like the murals are part of what makes Madison so special.
For the residents of Madison, “we get to enjoy these (murals) every single day, and it’s better and better,” Courtney said, noting it’s all part of the investments that are being made in the community. “Thank you for making this happen” Courtney added that the murals are part of the ongoing efforts in Madison to create a “quality of life that’s next to none.”
Courtney noted Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb was in Madison recently, “We spent 2 1/2 hours at Main and Broadway talking about Madison. He kept going on and on about Madison, and what Madison has no other communities have in the state.” Courtney noted how much Holcomb admired the Mulberry Murals during his tour of the city. “We’re working everyday to make sure there’s no better place to live than Madison,” Courtney said.
Bill Barnes, president and chief executive officer of the Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County, said it took vision, drive, organization and leadership for the Mulberry Murals project to become a reality, and gave credit to Kim Nyberg, executive director of the Madison Area Arts Alliance. “This does not happen without Kim Nyberg,” he said. “Congratulations to everyone involved. Thank you for this beautiful magical gift to the residents and to everyone who comes to Madison.”
Nyberg called the murals project a “dream” that started with a thought that came to her while admiring artwork she purchased from local artist Jane Vonderheide. That heart became the centerpiece of the Kindness Mural that led to the murals project. “This is a dream meant to be, what can I say,” Nyberg said. “If you have a dream, you’ve got to share it with people.”
The project moved forward with Nyberg telling Lumpford, “I think you need a mural on the side of your building” followed by numerous artists and others getting involved — something that’s possible in Madison, she said, because Madison is a community “where you can get a lot people behind you to make dreams come true.”
In all, there are five murals. Artists working on the Kindness Mural were Steve Bickis, Kevin Carlson and Vonderheide.
The Local Color Mural features work from artists Jenny Applegate, Debi Black, Mary Heath Bischof, Cheryl Byers, Kevin Carlson, Patty Cooper Wells, Beejay Elles, Marshall Falconberry, Dallas Gambill, Gabby Hammersley, Bella Heath, Carolyn Lopez, Hannah Peddie Miller, Eric Phagan, Brenda Shropeshire, Aaron Spears, Barbara Tompary, Cindie Underwood Vanderbur, Vonderheide, Russell Vossler and Teresa Waller.
Cooper Wells did the Local Color-Eggleston Mural which features novelist Edward Eggleston on a tricycle in which assistance was provided by community members in creating the hundreds of painted dots.
The last section on the Hentz Bakery wall was the Living Tree, which features the selfie wall, all work done by Jacob Louden.
The final section of the Mulberry Murals is on the side the Jefferson County Amusements building, the River of Kindness Mural, all done by Cooper Wells that not only tells of Madison’s river heritage, but also honors the art of Madison artist Lou Knoble as she incorporated his unique style of painting into a section of that mural.
Nyberg gave special recognition to Cooper Wells for not just her artistry on the murals, but coordinating the area artists for the collection of Orbs on the Local Color portion of the murals. “I am thankful for everything you have done,” Nyberg said.
For Cooper Wells, the Mulberry Murals have been a wonderful experience and she loves the positive energy that the murals have brought to the parking lot.
“Strangers have become friends, and this space has been transformed. There are fewer broken beer bottles and more butterflies,” she said. “Madison is truly a special place to live, not just for being beautiful, but it has talented people who write, paint, and write beautiful songs about it.”
Looking at the finished murals, Cooper summed up her thoughts by quoting artist Vincent Van Gogh.
“What is done in love is done well.”
Crystal Beach has been a recreational asset in Madison since the 1930s when during the Great Depression, the Work Progress Administration (WPA) constructed a massive pool and bath house that Madison Mayor Bob Courtney said “has become a critical part of our historic district.”
On Monday at noon, the city took a big step toward making sure the iconic water park continues to serve city residents and visitors by holding a groundbreaking ceremony for a $2.6 million project rehabilitation project that Courtney said will ensure Crystal Beach is “saved for the next generation.”
The rehabilitation will make significant improvements to the Crystal Beach pool house focused on providing improved ADA (American Disabilities Act) access within the site while extending the life of the facility.
Among the improvements will be a concession area with new electrical service, restored perimeter fencing and walls, a renovated and accessible pool deck, a new pool liner and permanent installation of the historic planter urns.
Additionally, bath, shower and locker rooms will be repaired and renovated for ADA accessibility and in the future patrons will enter and pay in the center lobby and then proceed through the locker room to access the pool areas with the locker rooms re-designed so that the floor is level with the pool deck.
An elevator will be installed for ADA access to the second floor, along with renovated second floor restrooms for ADA access. A warming kitchen will be added to the second floor to provide event facilities and a new HVAC system will be installed for the entire building. The historic pool house will receive tuckpointing, renovated windows, new doors, and new staircases and decking made from modern materials.
Nicole Schell, the city’s director of planning, noted the kitchen area has not been used for 10 years, and with the improvements Courtney noted there will be a space in the building that is usable for the benefit of the community.
The project, funded in part by Community Development Block Grants administered by the Indiana Office of Community of Rural Affairs and a matching contribution from the City of Madison Redevelopment Commission, became one the top priorities after Madison received designation as a Stellar Community.
Courtney spoke about the historical significance of Crystal Beach to the city, calling it “iconic.” The Mayor recalled his youth and the time he spent at Crystal Beach, not only because he swam at the pool but because the local Boys Club used the building as a meeting space. “I have fond memories of growing up and coming to Crystal Beach,” he said.
In the past, the second-floor of the pool house has seen many uses including a roller skating rink, dance hall, Jaycee clubhouse and more.
Harold Lakeman, the city’s first parks and recreation director, said the department’s first office was in the pool house building. “There was no running water,” said Lakeman, noting that he and secretary, Nancy Harper, had to leave the building to use the restroom.
Before serving as parks director, Lakeman had worked at Crystal Beach as a basket person. He recalled the facility originally had sand but the sand was removed because the Department of Health deemed it unsanitary so the sand was trucked to John Paul Park and placed in deep center field as fill.
Lakeman recalled Crystal Beach’s history including that it was built in 1938 for $100,000. He said Lt. Gov. Henry Schricker was there at the dedication ceremony in which the Madison High School band and American Legion drum and bugle corp and color guard participated.
Courtney said plans call for the rehabilitation to be completed by the 2022 swimming season and added there will be grand re-opening event once the work is completed.
“Great things are happening all over our town,” said Courtney, who added the projects are all part of bringing quality of life to the residents of the city. “Madison is a one-of-a-kind special place.”
Although new COVID-19 cases in Kentucky are trending downward, Trimble and Carroll counties continue to rank high for incidence rates, keeping both in the “Red” metric for high community spread.
On Friday, Trimble’s incidence rate was 47.2% while Carroll’s was at 44.3%, making Trimble 10th highest and Carroll 11th among Kentucky’s 120 counties.
On Friday, Kentucky reported 1,626 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s overall total to 734,137. There were 29 new deaths, increasing the state’s overall total to 9,559.
Late last week, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear reported a double-digit decline in hospitalizations from the virus in the previous seven days. He said virus-related admissions to intensive care units and ventilator use had also dropped steadily. But Beshear said more progress needed to be made in reducing numbers in the state.
“So let’s not cheer and celebrate while we’re still at where we are,” Beshear told the Associated Press. “Let’s do what it takes to continue to push this decline.”
The governor used statistics on ventilator use to reinforce his point.
“We should be grateful that we now have fewer people on a ventilator than at the height of our winter surge, but not by a whole lot,” he said. “We hope it continues to go down, but let’s not punt on third down, right? Let’s make sure we continue to do what it takes to get this down to those levels where we were all feeling great.
“Remember coming out of that winter surge and where we were for a period of time, we want to be again,” he added. “Because not only was it a good place to be, it was also a safe place to be.”
The rate of Kentuckians testing positive for the coronavirus has dipped to 6.25%, continuing a steady decline in that key barometer. The state on Friday reported 1,012 virus patients hospitalized in Kentucky, including 289 in ICUs and 187 on ventilators.
In Trimble County, the positivity rate is 11.76% with four new cases of COVID-19 in the last day, lifting its overall total to 1,205. Trimble’s death toll remains at 17.
Carroll County’s positivity rate is 9.77% with four new cases of COVID-19 in the last day, taking the overall total to 1,862. Carroll’s death toll remained at 26.
Jefferson County’s positivity rate is 8.9% with 20 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday, taking the overall total to 5,132. The county’s number of deaths during the pandemics remains at 97.
Switzerland County’s COVID positivity rate is 11.2% with three additional cases of COVID-19 since Friday, putting its overall total at 1,353. Switzerland County’s overall death toll remains at 11.
For the State of Indiana, the positivity rate is 8%. There were 912 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 1,011,197. Indiana’s death total is now 15,980 with no new deaths reported on Monday.
Meanwhile, local COVID vaccination numbers continue to lag behind the national average and three out of four Courierarea counties are getting vaccinated slower than state averages with the exception being Jefferson County.
Jefferson County has 15,182 residents (54.3%) who are fully vaccinated, which is higher than the 50.3% average statewide for Indiana but lower than the 59% average nationwide.
Carroll County has 4,765 residents who are fully vaccinated (44.5%) while Trimble has 3,489 (40.4%) — both below the 54.8% average statewide in Kentucky where 2,433,385 residents are fully vaccinated.
Switzerland County has the lowest vaccination totals of the four local counties with 3,349 residents fully vaccinated for only 37.1%.
A total of 3,338,495 Hoosiers are now fully vaccinated while 190,578,704 in the US are fully vaccinated.