American 3.14-Mural Revitalization

This mural revitalization project located on the underpass on E. 9th Street between N. Sherman Dr. and N. Kealing Ave. plans to put new images on the backdrop of the previous community mural that was done in the spring of 2015. Over 100 volunteers helped paint the previous mural three years ago. That art is now mostly covered with graffiti or patches of grey paint to abate the graffiti. Putting those bright colors on this underpass was a beacon of hope to people throughout the community, but in its current state the mural is a little less of a beacon of hope and more of an eyesore. The plan is to put nine images of people in the places where there is now graffiti or grey paint and to try to keep as much of the previous mural intact. There was also a special request by the community to put an eagle on the wall as well, so an eagle will go on an endcap. The images of people will give a personality to the mural and are being designed to specifically speak to disaffected segments of our society that may be tempted to litter or tag or deface public property.

This grassroots project which is supported by the Rivoli Park Neighborhood corporation is informed by crime prevention through environmental design. Having images of people on the walls will add a human element and make the passersby feel as though people are there with them as they go through the dark underpass. There are no houses along this stretch of street to keep watch on it and the surrounding area has one of the highest crime rates in the city of Indianapolis. The two buildings along this corridor to the north are in serious disrepair with roofs falling in and walls missing. Immediately to the south of 9th street is the Sherman Park area that people are envisioning new uses for the future, but right now it is basically empty. Currently, people litter and illegally dump on 9th street on a regular basis. This is likely due to the fact that there are no “eyes on the street”. It is our hope that when someone going through sees the new art work with the people looking on, they will stop and think twice before they do something to disrespect the community.

The two lead organizers of this project, Lisa Boyles and Aaron (Ezi) Underwoord have been planning the details of this undertaking since August of 2017. The name of the project, American 3.14, is a play on words, with it being American Pi, instead of American Pie. Originally, the idea for the backgrounds on the wall was going to be based on two Americas, the first being “American Pie” by Don McLean on one side of the street, and the second theme on the other side of the street by the hip hop artist Shad titled “Progress (Part 1: American Pie, Part 2: The Future is Here).” After getting feedback from a community poll, the organizers decided to focus the mural revitalization mainly on the breathtaking images of models that Ezi has been cultivating for this space, rather than the background images. The theme of American 3.14 has evolved to mean that we can take pride in this place with a mural that is a 3.14 upgrade as we revitalize what is there now. Ezi is already in the process of creating stencils of the people that will be depicted under the bridge. That way, if the mural is tagged with graffiti again in the future, the art can be easily put back up again using the stencils. The eagle and the background of stars that will also be a part of the “American 3.14” mural will give rise to pride in the place we call home.

There are a couple different ways that the community can support this endeavor financially. Checks can be written to the Rivoli Park Neighborhood, which is a 501 (c) (3) corporation with Mural 2018 in the memo line and sent to 950 N Gray Street, Indianapolis, IN 46201. Or people can show their support by donating online via the GoFundMe campaign which can be accessed via the link $2,000 will be spent on supplies. $2,500 is for the artist's labor, which is broken down into roughly $4 per square foot of mural or $15 an hour. This project will cover over 600 square feet of wall, and the industry standard for mural budgets is a minimum of $25 per square foot to cover the artist fee and supplies. So the budget for this project is roughly a third of what other murals this size would cost.

Here is a little bit more about the organizers. The artist, Aaron (Ezi) Underwood, is a hip hop artist from Indianapolis, Indiana. He has always been creative. After exploring various media, Ezi began to draw models and he developed his own style. He has always loved street art. Artists like Shepherd, who did the Obama hope posters, started doing large mural pieces on buildings. Seeing this development in the art world planted the idea of returning creativity to the community. "I want to become a mural artist", Ezi told himself. When Lisa Boyles met Ezi at a gallery showing some of Ezi’s gripping art, they immediately started collaborating to co-lead this project on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis. Lisa is a resident of Rivoli Park Neighborhood and she is volunteering her time as an organizer of this project so that this corner of the world can be a little bit brighter.
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Lisa Boyles 
Indianapolis, IN
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