Starke County native Anthony Brooks has created about 38 murals over the last few years.
But the three-story tall one he’s painting in Logansport is only the second one he’s done in the U.S., the first being in North Judson last year.
The painting, being created on the south side of the Transco Railway Products building at 1331 18th St., will reflect Cass County’s railroad past.
It will show some young men hopping a train car, the view being from outside the car.
“This is going to be amazing. The wall is huge,” Brooks said. “I’ve done wider, but this is definitely the tallest.”
With the sheer scale, people coming into Logansport on 18th Street will be able to see it from the bridge over the Wabash River, he said.
The mural project started more than a year ago, said Tetia Lee, chief executive officer for Tippecanoe Arts Federation (TAF).
It came about after the technology promoter Wabash Heartland Innovation Network (WHIN) received a $150,000 grant from the Lilly Foundation for art projects in each of the 10 counties it serves: Cass, White, Pulaski, Benton, Carroll, Tippecanoe, Warren, Fountain, Montgomery and Clinton.
WHIN asked TAF for help, and TAF worked with local groups in each county.
Lisa Terry is the Cass representative for TAF’s Regional Advisory Council, and she put together a group to choose an artist and a place.
Going through work samples of about 50 artists, the committee members rated each in blind voting.
All six chose Brooks independently, and all but one rated him a perfect “five” on their sheets, the other giving him a four.
Committee member Vickie Lebo said the members all had such different artistic tastes, so it was surprising to have such agreement.
“Something about his work — it was clean, it was crisp,” she said.
Terry Doran, also on the committee, said members didn’t want caricatures or cartoons but something realistic.
The group also agreed on the site after going out separately and looking for three potential walls to suggest for the art.
The mural fits the site — the 1904 train car building it’s going on — as well as the neighborhood, Doran said.
He grew up less than a block from the site.
Transco, which bought the property about 50 years ago, now repairs the cars, “kind of an autobody shop for rail cars,” said plant manager Chris Phillips.
Terry said they were nervous about approaching the company, but a mural fit into Transco’s plans.
The company already was making improvements to the building, said Phillips.
That includes making it structurally sound and beautifying the site, so the whole property will look different in two years and last another 50 to 116 years, he said.
The company heads liked the mural idea, and “company-wide, everybody’s excited about it,” said Phillips.
Lee said the guidelines TAF gave the committee were to put the mural where it had high visibility, where the wall would be there for at least 30 years and where it could revitalize blight.
With everything chosen, the committee gave Brooks a list of words for association to come up with a concept for the mural.
Brooks said he likes to make his works relate to their areas and tell some sort of narrative.
He hopes the work gets people interested in the area or nostalgic.
“My goal is that it just sparks that curiosity,” Brooks said.
He got involved in the mural project last year when he was back to visit family, and he submitted his work to TAF after learning about it.
His work has been mostly in Europe for a few reasons.
About four-and-a-half years ago, he went to Serbia to look into his roots and visit family.
The art scene and murals are more established in Europe than here.
“I was drawn,” he said. “I thought that was interesting, making art accessible.”
He has a studio in Serbia and painted 15 murals in 2018 and 15 in 2019 in places like France, Spain, Italy, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia and, of course, Serbia.
The Logansport mural’s cost is $30,000, with $15,000 coming from WHIN by a grant from the Lilly Endowment Fund and the local matching amount coming from various places.
The city and Cass County Community Foundation each contributed $1,500, and the Cass County Arts Alliance chipped in $350, according to Terry.
The rest came from anonymous donations.
Those who’ve made the mural happen are planning a public ribbon cutting for it at 3 p.m. Sept. 21 with the public invited.
After Brooks finishes in Logansport, he has other mural commissions in Indiana.
Two are in Lafayette, one is in Indianapolis and one is in St. Pierre, he said.
He’s also gotten interest from places in Starke County.