Brushstrokes: Little-known murals have saturated histories

Local artist Hanna Eastin was one of the artists who created the mural in the alley behind Prairy Market in Newton. That was 11 years ago and after the mural was added to the alley, tagging there stopped, Eastin said. Wendy Nugent/HC Now

By Wendy Nugent, HC Now

NEWTON—Several Newton murals are pretty well known around town, like the flower mural in a downtown parking lot off East Sixth or The Imagineers, the large mural painted about 10 years ago on the side of a building in the old South Dillons/Dollar General parking lot on North Main Street.

There are others, though, that aren’t so well known, like the spray-can painted mural on West Fifth Street or the one of Jesus holding a person in pain on New Jerusalem Missions.

Alley mural

This abstract mural is in the alley behind Prairy Market, 601 N. Main St., in downtown Newton.

Back when part of this location was Pages bookstore, 11 years ago, Pages owner Holly Nickel, local artist Hanna Eastin and Pages staff and friends got together to create the painting.

“The best I can remember, there was a lot of tagging going on and we were trying to give context to a different aesthetic,” Eastin said. “Giving room for that voice and not being grumbly about it.”

She said people had been grumbly about the tagging and they wanted to still bring that street art energy to the alley.

Eastin said that after the mural was created, the tagging stopped in the alley.

“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “We worked on it for two days.”

Those coming up with the design, which incorporates three eyes, the word “vision” and bright colors surrounded by black outlines, were Eastin, Nickel and Zach and Micala Gingrich-Gaylord. They used Hague’s outdoor sign paint.

“I know it was outdoor UV resistant,” Eastin said.

Good Times Barbershop

The artist known by iam450, as he wishes to remain anonymous, painted the mural on the west wall of Good Times Barbershop, 202 W. Fifth St.

In explaining his artist name on his website, iam450 said he combines 360 degrees, which is all points of view, with 90 degrees, where two opposite lines intersect, to come up with the 450 degrees.

“This brings the focus on incorporating all perspectives, so that two contrasting paths/perspectives can collaborate and create,” he said on his page. “That focus on bringing things together is the reason behind 450.”

Iam450 is a former Bethel College student. There, he majored in fine arts with a degree in painting and photography and a minor in graphic design.

Now, he resides in Dallas.

“So far, I have done a total of eight requested murals, but the number could actually range to 15-20,” he said. “Most are located in Dallas, Texas, and another in Nuevo León, Mexico.”

Right now, he’s working on another in Fort Worth, Texas.

Since he works as a freelance artist, his subject matter is chosen by clients.

“When working with organizations or the city, most often the composition relates to a movement or depiction of the current time,” he said.

Iam450 said he’s been working on murals for four to five years, and the one in Newton took him about four months to finish because of the harsh winter weather and his education studies.

Media he uses are spray paint and outdoor latex.

“I believe art can be very subjective, but the reality is that life itself is an art,” he said. “Everything consists of some type of creativity or thought. For me personally, art is a form to connect with others. I have the ability to listen to an individual’s ideas and form them into reality by painting, sculpting, drawing and even photographing.”

With murals, iam450 likes that he can work on a larger scale.

“Bigger is always better and murals give me the opportunity to show a larger audience my abilities as an artist,” he said. “I enjoy the interaction it has with the community and overall the process of the experience is very wholesome. “

The owner of the barbershop, Jesus Magaña, is pleased with the result.

“Many words could be said about the mural iam450 made for us, but the warmth it brought to our street and our barbershop, along with the response from the people of all ages in our community, is something that keeps surprising me,” Magaña said on iam450’s website.

New Jerusalem mural

Former Newton resident Andrew Nugent painted the mural at New Jerusalem Missions, 209 E. Broadway, featuring Jesus holding a person in pain.

The mural is on the west side of the building, facing west.

Nugent said New Jerusalem Missions founder and President Penny Dugan asked him to do it and he painted it as a volunteer.

The mural was done in black and white, using acrylic paints and it’s done using someone else’s artwork.

Prairy Market

Former local artist Joe Loganbill painted the farm scene mural inside Prairy Market, 601 N. Main in Newton, in 2006.

“The theme was from a sketch I’d done in the pasture out at the Joe Smucker/Barb Goering farm up near Goessel,” Loganbill said. “They own a small oil version of the same scene that I used to test the idea.”

It’s an oil painting on custom-made wood panels.

It was a commissioned piece the original Prairie Harvest owners asked him to paint they could put in their store when they moved from the 700 block to the current location.

“I was looking for a scene that epitomized the idea of wholesome food production from local sources,” Loganbill said. “Initially it was left to me to decide if it would be painted high on the wall itself somewhere in the store. However, construction and fitting of the interior updates was still underway, and it was hoped that the painting would be finished for the grand opening. I didn’t have a studio set up that would easily accommodate a triptych this large (5 feet tall by 12 feet).”

During the evenings, Loganbill used the mezzanine level of the building, which he knew as the upper floor of the JC Penney store as a boy, as his studio to paint that scene.

“At the time, it was much larger than my previous paintings and the scale pushed my comfort zone,” he said. “That was a good thing because it gave me confidence for larger scenes of Chicago that I did years later. This is the original sketch I did in the pasture, now hanging in my studio in Scotland.”

Farm Bureau and Sonic

Randy Douvier of rural Sedgwick and formerly of Newton painted the mural at 305 N. Meridian in Newton starting in 2009. The mural depicts a variety of subjects, including farmers, horses, a tractor, buffalo and farmland.

The building is where Harvey County Farm Bureau and the local Sonic headquarters are located.

“I projected to get it done that summer,” Douvier said, adding he’s worked on it since then, like painting the face on the farmer five years ago. “It was a good likeness of my dad. He was a farmer.”

He said that from the right front tire to the end of the wall, it was complete. However, the sunflowers in the mural are roughed in. Douvier said his intentions are to go back this summer and do the sunflowers and put more detail in the buffalo.

“Sherwin Williams gave me the paint to use,” Douvier said. “It held up really well. This is on metal.”

He used Sherwin Williams primer with Sherwin Williams exterior paint.

For the most part, Douvier said, he put a clear coat over the mural and did a lot of details with an airbrush.

There were challenges.

“Corrugation of the metal in and out, and then the size of it, getting it laid out,” said Douvier, who has a bachelor of fine arts from St. Cloud State in St. Cloud, Minn.

He said to get this design on the wall, he sketched it on an overlay and used a projector, which he had to do at night. He said sometimes, the police checked on him to see what he was up to.

After sketching, he used a paintbrush to cut in the major areas and then details were done with an airbrush. He learned to airbrush working at the Surf Hut in Panama City, Fla.