Speaking of “Taking Time to Photograph…” Commuting home last fall I noticed a building had magically appeared on the northeast corner of 33rd & Illinois – surely it wasn’t there before, right?
Turns out it had been there all along……but it had recently been transformed into a work of art.
Last week I was finally able to stop by and snap some photos of these fantastic murals without any cars blocking the view. It wasn’t until I reached the last few walls that I saw a company name in the window.
Welcome to the worldwide headquarters of Ikelite - a company that has produced underwater photographic equipment right here in Indy for over 50 years. I must admit I had never heard of them as my SCUBA experience is limited to taking a closed water class as a student at Butler University nearly 20 years ago. Wasn’t much need for me to photograph anything in the Hinkle Fieldhouse pool…
So how did this mural “magically” appear? During a “get to know you” conversation a few years ago, Ikelite’s newly hired purchasing manager Anna Castillo was asked by her boss: “What do you enjoy doing in your free time?” Turns out Anna is a bit of an artist.
She moved to Indy in 2002 and formerly had a studio in Irvington, but after a career move she was forced to give up that space as her time was shifted elsewhere. And now? She calls her boss her “art enabler” because she kept teasing him about this crazy idea she had for the exterior of their building – a series of wall murals related to what the company is all about. Eventually the project was given the green light.
In the fall of 2013 through a collaboration with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum and the Lilly Day of Service the vision became reality. Anna reached out to well known underwater photographers Bob Stubbs, Steven Miller & David Fleetham who gave her permission to peruse their collections and utilize portions of photos taken in oceans and sacred cenotes all over the world. Yes, “cenotes” is linked because I figured if I had to look it up you might as well – just wanted to make it easy!
Anna spent roughly three weeks piecing together the subject matter for each individual wall using a mix of the photographer’s material and her own work. After completing the sketches, the designs were stenciled onto the building and Ikelite employees worked in small teams to begin painting the portions of the murals nearest the roof of the building. These short painting sessions turned into team building activities where the employees got to spend time together outside their typical work environment.
On the 2013 Lilly Day of Service, volunteers arrived and under Anna’s direction completed the lower portions of the murals that appear on 8 separate walls. Because Illinois street is one way, they used the south & west walls as they get the most face time with drivers & riders commuting northbound on Illinois as well as the residents of the Illinois Place apartments built across the street on the site of the former Winona hospital.
In a follow up note sent to us as we worked on this post, Anna shared: “It makes me happy to know I’ve helped alter the landscape of this neighborhood – hopefully it results in more art-activisim that can help revitalize this and other neighborhoods here in Indy.”
Anna also hinted that the north wall of the building just might be her next project…and we’re pretty sure she has shared this with her boss (right Anna?). Stay tuned!
To see the mural in person take Meridian Street to 33rd and head west towards Illinois Street. The mural will begin on your right and continues along the west side of the building as you turn right (north) on Illinois.