Indiana Daily Student

'Bloomington' mural tells community, 'You Belong Here'

<p>Mayor John Hamilton and mural artist Eva Allen cut the ribbon to officially unveil the mural. The mural in Peoples Park has been in progress since March, but has only recently been finished.&nbsp;</p>

Mayor John Hamilton and mural artist Eva Allen cut the ribbon to officially unveil the mural. The mural in Peoples Park has been in progress since March, but has only recently been finished. 

Bloomington received a love letter Thursday afternoon. 

"I just want to soak in the moment a bit about how this helps make our city stronger," Mayor John Hamilton said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new "Bloomington" mural in Peoples Park on Kirkwood Avenue. 

Community members gathered in the park, once an unpopular destination, to celebrate the new mural depicting the city. 

A public-private partnership between the City of Bloomington's Economic and Sustainable Development Department and the Bicycle Garage, Inc began last March. Local artist Eva Allen was chosen to work on a project for the west wall of the Bicycle Garage Inc. building on Kirkwood Avenue. 

The mural, spelling out "Bloomington," depicts different aspects of the city in each letter of the word, including biking, basketball, the B-line Trail, its arts scene and the limestone quarries. In the bottom right corner, a simple slogan, "You Belong Here." read to the community.

It is part of a larger effort to encourage public art and by the City of Bloomington Arts Commission and its Public Art Master Plan for the City, according to a City of Bloomington press release. This includes facilitating public-private partnerships in Bloomington with the city government and local business like Bicycle Garage, Inc.

Sean Starowitz, assistant director of economic development for the arts in the Department of Economic and Sustainable Development, said the park will be a living mural space. 

He said the new mural and dedication ceremony were unrelated to various efforts to clean up Peoples Park after conflict with police and the transient population over the last year

"It's coincidental, my role is focusing on public art and public creation in the community," Starowitz said. 

His role has been pretty widespread. Since working for the department, he has planned out 18,000 square feet of murals in Bloomington.

Allen said it took more than 135 hours to paint, starting in August. She said she had a lot of freedom from the city with her ideas.

"I got to do whatever I wanted," Allen said. "I just thought it would be fun to do one with Bloomington, huge letters like I've seen in various cities from postcards." 

Department members, the artist and Mayor Hamilton rolled out a long piece of blue ribbon, blowing in the wind as they snipped it in half. The mural was officially open.

"The message, you are welcome here," Hamilton said. "It's fantastic."

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