Madison murals

Local artists create
stunning murals in downtown area

By Konnie McCollum
Contributing Writer

(October 2006) – The notice went out that the city was looking for artists to create murals for the Madison Comfort Station and the Senior Citizens Center, both of which are located along Main Street in downtown Madison, Ind. Numerous sketches were submitted, but in the end, well-known local artist Hal Davis and Madison Art Club’s Patty Cooper Wells were chosen to do the work.

Hal Davis

Patty Cooper Wells

Photos by Konnie McCollum

Artists Hal Davis (top) and Patty Cooper
Wells (bottom) are shown with their
murals. Davis’ mural can be seen at the
Madison Senior Citizens Center, while Wells’
mural is displayed at the Madison
Comfort Station, both on Main Street.

Davis, 60, has established a reputation as a premiere local artist. His work can be seen in many fine homes throughout the area and on display at Madison’s King’s Daughters’ Hospital & Health Services. He has also designed several posters for the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art.
Davis was chosen to paint the mural on the wall of the Senior Citizen Center. “Ironically, the sketch I submitted for the Comfort Station was the sketch chosen for the seniors,” said Davis. He was thrilled to have his work selected from the many other candidates.
His mural, located on a side dining room wall in the back of the center, is 36x7 feet in size. He said he had a lot of planning to do in the beginning for such a large mural.
Davis described his work as a montage of scenes that would be very recognizable to Madison residents, particularly older ones who have lived here for some time. He said that over time, he has taken many pictures of the more popular sights. He chose several images that he thought would work well together.
One of the major elements he considered while planning the mural was the contrast between light and dark. Most of his other artwork has that play on the light-dark contrast as well.
The mural has various scenes that run together to create a stunning panorama of Madison. From left to right, the mural begins with a depiction of a firehouse, a horse-drawn carriage, the front door of the Judge Jeremiah Sullivan museum house, the Broadway Fountain, the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site, a paddleboat, St. Michael’s the Archangel Church, Hanging Rock Hill, and an iron fence with flowers and a scene of magnolia blossoms. Davis is known for his beautiful renderings of flowers.
The amazing perspective makes viewers feel like they are actually part of the ongoing scenes. One feels like a passerby who could actually walk right through the door of the Sullivan House, or a driver just about to turn the curve on Hanging Rock Hill.
Davis began the actual painting of the mural in April and completed it in August. He worked numerous hours each weekday. During lunch break, he said he dined with the seniors and had fun socializing with them. “It was great fun listening to their comments and suggestions about my work and just talking with all of them,” he said.
Madeline Gray, Senior and Nutritional Wellness Director at the center, said, “Everyone was just amazed at the process and the dedication Davis put into his work.” She noted that there will be an upcoming open house at the Senior Citizens Center at some point in the near future, and everyone will get a chance to check out the mural and what goes on at the center, which is a program to help seniors stay active.
Wells, 35, said she was at the Madison Art Club when she saw a notice looking for mural artists. She also submitted her sketches and was thrilled to have been chosen to do the mural at the Comfort Station.
Wells is no stranger to mural work. She has done many throughout Madison, including one at JoeyG’s Restaurant and Nightclub.
When planning for her mural, Wells said she took into consideration the comfort station is not only a restroom facility, but it welcomes tourists and can almost be considered something of an introduction to Madison.
With that in mind, she centered her mural on prominent landmarks in the area. Like Davis, she used some of the more popular sights; however, that is where the similarity ends. Her mural is a stunning display of not only famous landmarks, but it also celebrates the riverfront and symbolizes the art and culture of the area.
Wells was originally supposed to do one long mural, but after visiting the actual site for the project, she suggested that her work would be better done in several parts due to the design of the building. And unlike Davis, who actually painted his mural on the wall, Wells has done her work on several wooden panels that will be hung along the Comfort Station walls and enclosed in protective glass. “There were concerns about possible vandalism,” explained Wells.
The large 12x6 feet wide panel features a river scene with a paddleboat and tourists and has an amazing depiction of Madison’s film history. Portraits of film star Irene Dunne, originally from Madison, and “Some Came Running” stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Shirley MacLain adorn part of the panel. Musician Rusty Bladen, a current hometown favorite, is also included in the mural.
There are many scenes throughout the panels that will be familiar to tourists and residents, including the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site, Clifty Falls, the Broadway Fountain and Little Jimmy, the statue atop the downtown firehouse. Wells even added local artists, including herself and local artist Lou Knoble into the scenes.
Visitors and residents alike will enjoy viewing the murals of both Davis and Wells. Each mural is an amazing and truly incredible piece of artwork.

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