CULVER — Laura Newman is the muralist who is painting the wall in Heritage Park.
The beautification project waas funded by the Culver Visitor’s Center, Culver Main Street, the Culver Redevelopment Commission and Elizabeth Thompson-Beauchamp of The Garden by Elizabeth.
Art has been a part of Newman’s life since she was a small child.
“It came easy to me,” she said. “The more people encouraged me to be an artist, the more it became a reality for me.”
Newman created murals for Evil Czech Brewery and has designed posters for businesses.
“My decision to turn to commissioned work came when I was bouncing around to different colleges,” she said. “I don’t want to live my whole life and waste this potential. So I started going to school for art. When I was working at the Evil Czech when it first opened, they heard that I could draw, and they paid me to do a label. Three more followed that label. Seventeen labels later I did a mural for them when they moved up to Elkhart.”
She said she also did chalk art for the owner.
“He asked, ‘Do you do graffiti?’ I said, ‘Yes I do.’ I went home and immediately watched 10 hours of youtube videos on how to graffiti because I had no idea how to do it,” she said with a laugh. “I don’t normally oversell myself like that, but I knew I could do it.
She has been “here and there doing commission work for about a decade now.
“It’s all been through word of mouth,” she said.
Newman grew up in Culver, but now lives in Lafayette where she works third shift as a machine operator at the Copper Moon.
Before the mural project, Newman got acquainted with Danielle and Heather when they opened the Main Street Studio.
“They had me paint in there when they opened,” she said.
A couple of possibilities at the beginning of summer to paint the outside mural fell through. With the backing of the Culver Redevelopment Commission the project was initiated.
“This one came up and it happened so fast,” she said.
Newman was enthusiastic about the possibilities that art in the heart of downtowns and Main Streets could create for businesses and communities.
“Danielle Mavrick contacted me,” she said. “She wants to have murals painting through the town to attract visitors. I think it is a great idea because it is trending in big cities right now. They do mural walks. You can even hire people specifically to follow you around and your friends to take pictures for you so everyone can be in the picture.
“Obviously I am biased because I am an artist,” she said, smiling
Newman said she works on the mural every day she can, including taking some vacation time off of her primary job.
She gets off work at 7:30 a.m. and drives to Culver. In the event of rain, she sleeps at her sister Kelly’s house. Once the weather cooperates, she climbs the scaffold and continues the project.
“My original design was simple; it was pretty,” she said. “I had planned to get it all done Labor Day weekend.”
But Newman’s vision grew for the mural.
“It is such a big canvas, it is going to look awesome,” she said. “Doing murals like this or signage for businesses has always been my absolute dream. That’s like a vacation for me. I wish when I had first started doing them that I would have kept a scrapbook. I have significant memories from each project. It is really exciting when a business first starts. There is all this enthusiasm and I get to be a part of that. … I want to do less with more focus.”
The best way to contact Newman for commissioned art work is through Facebook. She plans to build a website in 2020 to promote her business professionally on a wider scale.
“Let’s see how far I can push it?” she said, laughing.
Newman is happy with how the mural is taking shape.
“It’s been a great experience,” she said.