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Greenfield Daily Reporter - June 20, 2013

County Mural Accessible to All

picture of hancock county mural

GREENFIELD — Thanks to the generosity of a local community member, a precious piece of Hancock County history has returned to a suitable home where residents will be able to appreciate its significance.

Judy Brown of Greenfield recently donated a 17-by-5-foot textile mural to the Hancock County Public Library. The mural represents the county’s past and present, as well as a glimpse into its future.

The mural fell into Brown’s possession several years after she retired as vice president of Greenfield Banking Co. in 1998. The textile has been hanging in her house, but she decided to pass the token along since she and her husband are downsizing to a different property.

“It just came to me that … it needs to stay in Greenfield,” Brown said. “It needs to be accessible to the public, and it needs to be somewhere it can be cared for.”

In 1985, Brown was tasked with finding an artist who could capture the essence of Greenfield as well as the significance of GBC in the downtown scene. The project was a collaborative effort between GBC and Greenfield Revitalization Inc., an organization committed to the renewal of downtown.

After much contemplation, Brown selected Marilyn Price, an Indianapolis-based artist who specialized in silk-screening and fabric screen printing, to undertake the project.

“We had talked about lots of different types of art, but this just seemed to be a perfect answer for what we wanted,” Brown said. “(Price) was willing to customize (the project) … and her plans were very detailed.”

Brown worked closely with Price to facilitate the needs of the bank while incorporating the vision of the community. Brown provided Price with historical photos of the bank and several noteworthy Hancock County landmarks. In 1986, the mural was hung on the east wall of the main office at the downtown GBC branch, where it stayed for more than 25 years before it was removed for renovations of the building.

Today, the mural is mounted on a massive metal frame on the north wall of the GBC Community Room at the library, an ideal location, Brown said.

“I didn’t want it to be in Indianapolis at an art museum,” Brown said. “I wanted it to be in Greenfield, and (the library) is just the perfect place.”

Beverly Gard, president of the library board, agrees that the new location is fitting, and said it affords the masses an opportunity to observe the county’s history.

“The room is used by hundreds and hundreds of people all year,” Gard said. “By having it there, the public will be able to enjoy it for a very long time.”

The mural was designed in tiers and features photos of GBC rooted in the early 20th century in the top row, followed by several images that are representative of Greenfield’s history. Some of the silk-screened photos portray scenes from the since-destroyed Riley School, as well as more modern landmarks like the Courthouse Plaza.

The mural, which was designed out of Price’s Broad Ripple studio, depicts several symbolic scenes, as well.

“Even the colors have symbolism,” Brown said. “There’s the blue skies and stars, which represent an open window into the future. Then there’s a log cabin design, which represents the pioneering spirit.”

Library director Dave Gray has had a UV light filter applied to windows in the room to protect the mural from fading, and he plans to take full advantage of the mural’s message.

“It’s certainly a good opportunity …. if we can incorporate it with any of our programming,” Gray said. “Just having it on display will allow us to take advantage of some of those possibilities.”

Despite her history with the mural, Brown is pleased it’s found an appropriate home.

“I just couldn’t think of a better place for it,” Brown said, “because I wanted it to be publicly accessible, I wanted it to be protected and I wanted it to be appreciated by the place that had it. I think that all is accomplished right here.”

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