Mural fest

Jerrod and Kara Tobias of Tobias Studios will be painting the mural on the north side of Doc’s Hardware as part of the region-wide Mural Fest.

ALBION — The design of the mural going up on the north side of the Doc’s Hardware this week remains a heavily guarded secret. But local officials say the end result will be a big positive for the town and Noble County.

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, in collaboration with Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne Inc., announced last week the 11 artists participating in Make It Your Own Mural Fest.

The arts happening is taking place Sept. 8-18 across Northeast Indiana’s 11 counties.

Albion’s mural will be painted by Jerrod and Kara Tobias of Tobias Studios on the side of the Doc’s Hardware building located at 122 N. Orange St.

The regional mural festival concept, the first of its kind in the state, is an innovative, creative activation of the Make It Your Own brand intended to enhance the region’s efforts to drive talent attraction, talent retention and tourism by investing in quality of place assets and public art.

“The mural installment is going to be a good way to bring vibrant colors to the downtown,” said Emily Schneider, executive director of the Noble County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“I think it will be fun,” Albion Town Manager Tena Woenker said. “I really think it’s a cool project.”

Woenker said the mural design is more about art rather than a representation of life in Albion. But in the era of COVID-19, it will be a fun event to get people out of their homes in a setting where social distancing is possible.

“It’s been a hard year,” Woenker said. “Albion is used to having all these events. Mural Fest gives us something tot look forward to.”

“It gives people a great opportunity to get outside,” Schneider said.

Kate Virag, vice president of marketing and strategic communications at the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, said Mural Fest was created to achieve several goals.

“We designed Mural Fest with several specific outcomes in mind. First, Mural Fest will amplify Northeast Indiana’s quality of place, supporting our region’s talent attraction and retention goals. Additionally, this initiative highlights the unique attributes of our communities, creating opportunities for residents and visitors to engage and experience Northeast Indiana through public art, driving social media and media exposure for the region. The initiative also offers mentorship opportunities for emerging regional artists, which should catalyze future public art creation. This important element of the regional branding strategy will make Northeast Indiana nationally known and position it in a positive, forward-thinking light,” Virag said.

Elaine Bedel, secretary and CEO of the Indiana Destination Development Corp., said the state recognizes the strong connection quality of life initiatives like Mural Fest can have on economic growth.

“The goal of the IDDC is to tell Indiana’s authentic story to attract and retain business, talent, students and visitors to our great state. That’s why I continue to seek out new ways the state can partner with and lift up the work of our regions and local communities,” said Bedel. “Make It Your Own Mural Fest is an incredible example of how innovation and creativity, even during the historic challenges of COVID-19, can bring countless new opportunities, attention and individuals to a community through investment in quality of place.”

Dan Ross, vice president of community development for Arts United, said public art creates a unique attachment to the community and can be a catalyst for future growth.

“Arts United is passionate about the development of vibrant communities throughout Northeast Indiana. Through partnerships like Make It Your Own Mural Fest, we achieve positive outcomes for the region’s economy, workforce, schools, neighborhoods and families,” said Ross. “Even during these challenging times due to COVID-19, it’s important we continue to support artists, explore new ideas and interests, experience diverse cultures and be inspired by our community’s resilience.”

Meet the Artist

Noble County is invited to meet the artist of the Albion Mural, Jerrod Tobias from Tobias Studios, at a free Meet the Artist event on Thursday, Sept. 10.

Meet the Artist will feature complimentary food from One10 West Main Street and live music with Jon Ness from 4-7 p.m. on East Jefferson Street, directly adjacent to the mural site, the north side of Doc’s Hardware and Rentals, in downtown Albion.

Tobias will have started Noble County’s new mural by the time of the Meet the Artist event. Completion will occur, weather permitting, sometime on or around Sept. 18.

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