Indy Artist Completes Zionsville’s First-Ever Downtown Mural

Writer  /  Samantha Kupiainen
Photographer  /  Ryan Woodall

If you’ve strolled along Main Street or First Street in the last few weeks, chances are you’ve come across the colorful portrait of President Abraham Lincoln displayed on the back of the building that faces Lincoln Park.

The vividly colorful mural is a portrait of Lincoln’s face. The artist used abstraction and cubism, and at the bottom, “Zionsville” is written out.

The 266-square foot, strikingly vivid mural was designed by Indiana artist and muralist, Koda Witsken. Witsken is the lead muralist and owner of Hue Murals & Studio.

Mayor Tim Haak says the mural came about because the Zionsville public art group started expanding and installing public art throughout town. Zionsville is home to a bustling art community including the Zionsville Cultural District (ZCD) and CV Art and Frame. The ZCD was instrumental in the installation of the Lincoln mural.

“That group brainstormed a lot of ideas about public art in Zionsville,” Mayor Haak says. “It started off about two years ago with Sidewalk Poetry, and then they gave us a bunch of new ideas for this year. The mural on the side of the building bubbled up to one that was relatively quick and easy to do.”

As for Witsken, she was eager to bring her “color vomit” style to Zionsville.

“I actually initially reached out to the Town of Zionsville for a much smaller project in their town hall,” Witsken says. “That ended up going to somebody else, but after meeting with the president of the cultural board, Carla Howie, we just really connected and were both pretty darn passionate about public art. We really cooked up this project, the two of us. Then we worked together to bring the town on board, and it’s been a really fun process.”

Howie couldn’t be more excited for the mural.

“The ZCD is thankful for the support received by the Town of Zionsville to facilitate this project,” says Howie, ZCD Board President. “This mural was chosen to honor the park and its significance to the community while providing an obvious visual impact for all to enjoy.”

Mayor Haak says that choosing Witsken for the project was an “easy selection.”

“They had some interviews with potential artists and then Koda came up with the proximity to Lincoln Park and Lincoln’s history with Zionsville,” he says. “So, it made it an easy selection to pick that project and that subject for the building.”

Zionsville and the building the mural is painted on have a rich history and correlation to Lincoln.

“The building that Abe is on faces Lincoln Park,” Witsken says. “It’s named Lincoln Park because Lincoln actually stopped there on his train route when he was giving addresses back in the day. His son was on the train and it was a really important moment in Zionsville history.”

Witsken says she hopes the mural reminds people to come together.

“I know there are so many opinions and things going on in the world, but if you look up and see, you see a guy who tried to bring people together and everything he did,” she says. “I would hope that we all get reminded of that and add a little color to our own lives in a really positive way.”

She also hopes that the Lincoln mural reminds people to be proud of their hometown.

“We want to really honor everything that Zionsville is with this project and bring the public together in a really meaningful way that screams Zionsville,” Witsken says. “Those are the two most important goals that I want people to take away.”

As a muralist, this isn’t the first time Witsken has done a project such as the Lincoln mural. She created a roughly 80-foot, three-story warehouse in Vincennes for Pioneer Oils headquarters and has plans to paint another mural on an underpass for the Town of Cumberland in 2020. She says that large scale work is by far her favorite. 

As for the future art scene in Zionsville, Mayor Haak says the city has some smaller art projects that they will announce when they’re ready.

The mural was commissioned between a partnership with the Town of Zionsville and the Zionsville Cultural District, while all of the paint and painting supplies were donated by Sherwin-Williams. The mural is now completely finished, as Witsken put the finishing touches on it in mid-June. The mural is located on the building along 98 Main Street. It faces out over Lincoln Park and is in a prominent location within the downtown village district.

“This is our first commissioned mural in downtown Zionsville and a great addition to the vibrancy that already exists here,” Mayor Haak says. “This is just the start. We are ready to do more unique art projects in the coming years.”