FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Big faces of people who made a big impact on Fort Wayne have appeared on buildings across the city. Two artists put final touches on murals that part of the Faces of the Fort city art project Thursday.
Fort Wayne native Mitchell Egly worked to complete the mural near the Clyde Theatre on Bluffton Road. It features Thomas Smith, the Co-Founder/CEO of Smith Academy for Excellence, former principal at South Side High School and the city’s first minority high school football coach at Elmhurst High School.
“This guy Thomas is a jolly character and would be a good person to feature and I’m so glad that he was nominated,” Egly told WANE 15. “I’ve heard all the interviews with him and the nomination speeches involving his successes and his hard work and I just think he’s a good person doing good things and that’s what we need.”
Raquel Kline, the director of Language Services Network is featured next to Smith.
“If you beautify your community, the community is beautiful, and there’s a lot of good things happening in Fort Wayne I think need to be showcased and I’m glad to be part of it,” Egly added.
As Egly worked Thursday, Benjamin Duke was on a lift spray painting a portrait of Glynn Hines. The city councilman has been recognized for the years of service to Fort Wayne, with special attention on the city’s southeast side.
“I was just overjoyed that I was picked to take part in the three murals that are going up around the city,” Duke said. “It seems to me it’s a big honor to be able to help to support the kind of community building goals that the arts commission brought to this project.”
The other face featured on the building at Tennessee Ave and St. Joseph Blvd belongs to Genevieve Meyer. Meyer is the co-founder of Resiliency Foundation, aimed at ending child marriage and exploitation.
“It’s like if you do a 10 hour day in the studio, there’s no one cheering you on, or no one honking their horn as they drive by and I think that is like one of the most, fulfilling kinds of experiences as I’m making the work, Duke explained. “I hope that people can enjoy it for years to come.”
The first of the murals completed was painted on the side of Cash America at S. Anthony Blvd. and McKinnie Avenue. Painted by Kacy Jackson, it honors writer, poet and composer William E. Warfield. Warfield has also been documented as the city’s first black real estate investor, working in the early 1900’s.
Each mural features two faces. The second person spotlighted at the S. Anthony and McKinnie location is Irene Paxia. She was nominated for the work she has done with AMANI Family Services.
“It’s very powerful,” Jackson said about being involved in the project. “I live by the motto: ‘create, impact and inspire.’ I’m creating, impacting and inspiring others. With this mural, I had the opportunity to do that as well. Not only did I feel like I was at home, but I really had a chance to connect with the community, so there was a lot of community engagement during this time I was painting.”
- Southeast Quadrant – 4335 S Anthony Blvd
- Mural Artist: Kacy Jackson – The Art Of Kacy | Your All In One Art Provider
- Southwest Quadrant – 1818 Bluffton Rd
- Mural Artist: Mitchell Egly – Murals | eglyillo (wixsite.com)
- Northeast Quadrant– 1514 St. Joseph Blvd
- Mural Artist: Benjamin Duke – benjamin duke (bendukeart.com)
According to a news release from the City of Fort Wayne, a committee comprised of members from the Fort Wayne Public Art Commission, local arts organizations, neighborhood groups, the African/African-American Historical Society, the immigrant and refugee community and the LGBTQ community selected the artists to paint the murals.