Crothersville business owner adds free art wall



Once the 50-foot-wide, 8-foot-tall wall was up, Kyle McIntosh and some others spent a few hours putting paint on it.

By the end of the day, others had stopped by to paint on it.

By the next day, it was nearly full of colorful artwork, so people started painting the back of the wall, even though the panels weren’t yet up on that side.

The response from people with the free art wall outside his business, Beauty from Ashes Tattoo Parlor in Crothersville, is exactly what he wanted.

“It has been really cool. It has been amazing,” he said. “Honestly, way more than I expected. I expected a mixed response, to be honest with you. I’m sure there are people that may not agree with it, but for the most part, I’ve received nothing but positive vibes from it. People have been really, really cool.”

In the first month of the wall’s existence, he has heard several stories from people.

Some say they come by often to see if anything new has been added to the wall. One woman said her son wants to go by every morning to look at the art.

“The greatest part of it is the positive vibes,” McIntosh said. “That’s what we wanted from the beginning was ‘Let’s create a wall that people can create art any time they want, but we’re not telling you what to do, just try to keep it positive whatever you do.’ There are no signs out there. There are no rules out there. It’s open.”

McIntosh said he also has been impressed to see people take care of the area and not leave trash behind.

“It’s respected,” he said. “I think it’s the true definition of a public mural. It’s evolving. I think that’s what everybody has liked about it so far is it just changes every day, so you always have something different to look at, just keep it positive and keep it clean, keep it safe.”

In establishing the wall, McIntosh said it was a way to create beautiful art and good vibes at any time — legally.

As a teenager in Indianapolis, McIntosh was arrested for doing graffiti on a building that had been abandoned for 20 years. Since it had been neglected for that many years, he told the judge he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong.

“I was like, ‘It’s going to fall down anyway. It’s dilapidated. I just made it look better,'” he said. “They weren’t digging that argument anyway, but I told them, ‘Why don’t we make a wall that would just stay up and you could paint any time?’ I think there would be less of that stuff going around because they would have somewhere to do it.”

Once he moved his tattoo shop to 201 N. Armstrong St., McIntosh said he finally wanted to make his idea of a free art wall reality.

“We uncovered a brick path that was one of the original sidewalks from town out here, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s really cool. What better plan for a wall than right next to this brick sidewalk?'” he said.

When Crothersville Police Department Assistant Chief Jonathon Tabor heard about the free art wall, he reached out to McIntosh since he had experience installing fences.

Tabor wound up donating his labor to erect the wall.

“He donated his time because he believed in it. He believed in the cause, and he believed that it was a great thing,” McIntosh said. “He worked his butt off, man. He really did. He was out there removing all of those poles by hand. He did it all by himself out in the heat, too, on his only day off.”

In mid-July, the free art wall was up.

“We started doing stuff on it just because it’s wood, so it’s not primed, and if you spray paint on wood like that and it doesn’t have any paint or coating on it, it just soaks right in,” McIntosh said.

That’s when he and some others gave the wall the first coat of paint, and others caught on to the purpose of the wall.

People can bring their own paint supplies or use items in a plastic tote that sits near the wall. McIntosh put paint, brushes, spray paint and paper plates in the free art box after he heard some local kids say they would paint on the wall once they had money to buy supplies.

“Then people started donating their own paint to it,” he said. “Leaving the 99 Ministries, they donated some money to fill it up, so people have been doing that. They’ve been leaving paint, too, literally leaving a can of paint in front of the wall and writing ‘Use this.’ It’s just stuff like that. It has been cool to see people coming together.”

A stepladder is there for use, too, along with barrels to sit on.

Steve Deweese and his daughter, Carolyn, snapped a selfie after simply spray painting their names on the wall.

“She loves painting, and I love the thought of having a living, ever-changing art installation in the county,” Dewesse said. “I’ve known Kyle for several years, and his passion for art and for his community make this the perfect combination of things for him to be a part of.”

As a musician and theater actor, Deweese said he understands the need for support of local artists.

“It was my small way of supporting the passion of my friend while teaching my daughter the importance of art and community,” he said.

McIntosh has received several positive messages from people on Facebook posts about the wall.

“It is wonderful. Our children need it. Expressing your feelings through art is a great thing to do,” Bonnie Brock wrote.

“I can’t love this enough,” Staci Peters wrote. “For people in our community to be able to express themselves and everyone see it, just brilliant.”

Jera Sue Shelton said she is so happy to see the wall happening.

“So many people out there needing to be heard through their art,” she said.

Sherry Street said sometimes, people need a new look into ideas, and the free art wall gives a voice to everyone in a new way.

Debbie Carney agreed the wall is a great idea.

“It’s like a sign of unity. Everyone has a place at the wall of art,” she said. “In this crazy world we are living in, we all seek something a lot more brighter to look at versus the darkness of what is going on.”

Even though people started painting on the back of the wall when the panels weren’t up yet, McIntosh said he plans to install those panels sometime soon.

When either side is full of art, he said people can paint over anything, but just be respectful.

“It’s an evolving art wall,” he said. “If you know it’s something that has been there for a while or you just really have an amazing piece you want to put on there, go ahead.”

His plan is to once a year in the cold months, remove all of the panels, cut them up into sections and auction them off.

“With the money that’s raised from auctioning these panels off, a part of that would go back to just replacing the panels, and then the rest of that money would go to a local cause,” McIntosh said.

In the spring, the panels will be replaced so people can create more art. He also wants to put lights on the wall.

McIntosh already has inspired others in the area to put up their own free art wall. He said Jeff Ellis is interested in putting one near Ellis Jewelers on East Second Street in Seymour, and one also is being planned in Austin.

For those who want to put up a wall, McIntosh suggests gaining community support first. If that’s approved, put it in a well-lit area that’s visible to the public and can be monitored.

“There has been a lot of really good response. It’s just so cool because to me, it was just this strange idea, ‘Would anybody really even go for that? How much uproar would I get?'” he said, smiling. “But it has been good so far.”

No posts to display