Murals planned for downtown Seymour


Seymour Main Street and the city of Seymour have partnered with professional artists to give the downtown more visual appeal.

The first project will be a mural of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Seymour native John Mellencamp on the east wall of This Old Guitar Music Store, 106 W. Second St.

That particular location has been eyed for a Mellencamp mural since 2013, but it was never completed due to issues with how the mural was to be applied, the condition of the wall and getting Mellencamp’s direct approval.

At that time, the artist proposing the mural was Kay Fox of Seymour. Fox is no longer associated with the project. 

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Mayor Craig Luedeman said Hoosier artist Pamela Bliss will now paint the mural. Bliss is well-known and respected in the state for her work, including a 60-foot Reggie Miller mural and a Kurt Vonnegut mural, both in Indianapolis.

"She came to us out of nowhere," Luedeman said. "She’s the real deal when it comes to painting that type of thing."

The mural will cost $25,106 and is being funded by the Seymour Redevelopment Commission.

Mellencamp has signed off on the project and location, and it’s Bliss’ hope he will come participate by helping paint some of the mural himself, Luedeman said. Besides being a musician, Mellencamp also is a well-renowned painter.

"Our big thing is trying to get people into downtown," Luedeman said.

Bliss originally had wanted to have the mural completed by the Seymour Oktoberfest, which is Oct. 3 through 5, but it will take about a month to complete, Luedeman said.

"She guarantees it for five years," he said. "It’s not something that is just thrown on the wall. It’s really good stuff."

This Old Guitar is owned by Larry McDonald, who used to play in a band with Mellencamp when they were younger.

Another mural is being planned for the north side of the Edward Jones building at 201 S. Chestnut St. That mural will face U.S. 50 or Tipton Street so it’s highly visible to motorists.

"It will be kind of a welcome to the historic downtown," said Becky Schepman, executive director of Seymour Main Street. "It’s going to incorporate the Oktoberfest, Freeman Field and the Tuskegee Airmen and all of those elements of Seymour."

Seymour Main Street has contracted with Murals and More of Franklin, Tennessee, to paint the mural during downtown development week in October, Schepman said.

The artist, Michael Cooper, toured the downtown, spending half a day getting a feel for the area. He will complete one mural per year for the next five years, giving Seymour Main Street the opportunity to host a mural tour of the downtown.

"It will be a great draw and kind of help us to be a destination," Schepman said.

All of the murals will have to be approved by the city’s downtown review board first.

The funding for Seymour Main Street’s five murals also is coming from the Seymour Redevelopment Commission, which earmarked $200,000 at the beginning of the year for Seymour Main Street projects.

"All those projects were ideas that we gathered through community input sessions and also merchant feedback," Schepman said.

She said Seymour Main Street is appreciative of the financial support from the city.

Half of the $200,000 was used for Seymour Main Street’s grant program to help downtown building owners repair and replace roofs and windows and to help business owners wanting to rent a downtown building.

"My economic vitality committee worked really hard and got a program together for rent, windows, roofs and upper-level build out, as well, to try to encourage people to redo upper-level living downtown," she said.

More than $90,000 of the $100,000 has been used for the grants, she added.

The grant program helped put a new roof on Larrison’s Diner; assisted with renovations to the building that now houses Automotive Equipment Specialist Inc.; is funding renovation work for a new wine-themed restaurant called Vat and Barrel; and is providing funding to repair the building at 104 S. Chestnut St. that was the site of The Chocolate Spoon so it can reopen.

She also said commercial real estate developer Mike Kopp continues to show the building at 103 N. Chestnut St., which at one time was gong to be Bella Vita, an Italian restaurant.

That deal fell through when the business owner, David Lawrence, of Louisville, Kentucky, was arrested in 2018 on charges of committing corrupt business influence, theft, check deception, check fraud and causing neglect of dependents by writing bad checks for child support for employees at Rails Craft Brew and Eatery, which he opened in downtown Seymour in 2015.

Kopp owns six downtown buildings at this time that are all empty, Schepman said.

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