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Coming into focus

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ALIVE WITH ART:Gethsemane Episcopal Church member Ryan James cuts the grass alongside a mural on the Marion Studio Project's building, 803 S. Washington St., on Monday.
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COMING TOGETHER:A mural in progress in the alleyway on the north side of the Grant County Courthouse square on Monday.

BY Emily Rachelle Russell - erussell@chronicle-tribune.com

Two new murals are brightening the walls of downtown Marion, thanks to funding from the City of Marion revenue and land leased by Indiana Michigan Power.

Grant County Economic Growth Council’s Director of Marketing and Communications Mikayla Marazzi explained that the Growth Council, the City of Marion, Marion Design Co. and the local artist community have been working together for some time in an effort to beautify downtown and draw attention to the art community.

The first mural is located at 10th and Washington streets on the side of the Gethsemane Episcopal Church Seeker’s House, where the artistic nonprofit Marion Studio Project resides. The image depicts the message “Art lives here” next to a thumbs up. The second is located on a wall across the alley from the former Wolfe building on Third Street.

Eric Helvie, founder and board member of Marion Studio Project, said the idea behind the first mural — designed and painted by Marion Studio Project’s Madison Mosher with the assistance of interns and volunteers — was to make a clear, definitive statement about the art community in the nonprofit and the larger Marion community.

“We wanted people to be able to drive down South Washington Street and see something very bold and clear,” Helvie said. “And we felt like ‘art lives here’ was a statement that people could really wrap their heads around. … (It’s) an inspirational statement that community members (can) really get excited about.”

Andrew Luttrull, an art teacher at McCulloch Junior High School, is painting the second mural. According to Marazzi, the majority will be completed by this Friday, in time for the Oct. 12 Discover Downtown event. The design was illustrated by Luttrull and approved with feedback from community members, Mayor Jess Alumbaugh and Marion Design Co.

Luttrull’s work depicts a close up of a young man with his head turned in profile, shoulders clad in bright yellow. Marazzi said she appreciates the bright, unique, eye-catching colors.

Since the painting of the first mural, the message of “art lives here” has been adopted as Marion Studio Project’s slogan, Helvie said. It was intended to send a positive message about art without being a branding maneuver. Meanwhile, the accompanying thumbs up is lighthearted and playful. It opens up possibilities for passers-by to post on social media.

According to Marazzi, both murals are intended to bring attention and artists to downtown Marion. Helvie’s staff and interns at Marion Studio Project originally applied for the Growth Council’s CHARM Grant. While they didn’t end up getting the grant, the funding from the City of Marion was able to support the mural project.

Luttrull’s mural came about by approaching the Growth Council directly, Marazzi said. The council as well as the mayor were interested in the artistic vision for downtown and funded his work as well.

To interact more with the budding art community in downtown Marion, local and Grant County residents are invited to take part in Discover Downtown on Oct. 12 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.