Photos by Darrin Phegley
If you are out and about this summer, head on down to Water Street to view the “Nourish” mural located behind Henderson Juice Co. Completed in October 2020, this mural was the first independent mural painted by the very talented artist, Maddy Fritz.
Born and raised in Henderson, Maddy had much experience and was more than qualified to bring a piece of work, such as this, to our downtown community. She is a 2010 Henderson County High School graduate, and a 2013 graduate from Georgetown College where she majored in graphic design and studio art. Maddy was always interested in anything related to arts and crafts at every stage growing up, and she is finally giving back in a way she only dreamed about.
Where The Journey Began
Two years ago, Maddy had the opportunity to work with the muralist, Leah Tumerman, on the “Discover Your Nature” mural on 2nd Street in downtown Henderson. At the time, she worked with the Henderson Tourism Commission doing marketing, so she was able to be involved with the ins and outs of the mural selection process. Maddy worked with Leah for about 100 hours on the mural. After Leah’s assistant left, Maddy essentially became her new assistant for the remainder of the project, as Leah trusted her with a lot of responsibility. Maddy recalls Leah’s encouragement, “Within a year you should get your own wall.” Maddy thought it would be an awesome experience to paint her own mural someday, and Leah really challenged her in preparation for it.
Maddy began looking for leads, and she had a couple, but nothing really came to flourish from those leads. She said last year when the pandemic hit, she told herself, “I’m going to find a wall or a space, no matter how big or small it is. If I get no sponsorships, or no one can pay me, I will just self-fund it.” She said she had $1,000 to build her name and work with the community. “I love being involved, had skill and needed to get my foot in the door,” Maddy said.
Emily Hunter, who owns and operates Henderson Juice Co., wanted an indoor mural painted inside her business during its renovation. Maddy and Emily worked together and were able to make a bargain. Maddy offered to do her mural inside Henderson Juice Co. for free, if Emily could get her connected with the owner of the building to do a mural on the back wall behind Henderson Juice Co. Luckily, everything worked out. They essentially let her make her own design, and Maddy set a goal of raising $1,000 to fund her supplies. Within 24 hours, it was met. “It definitely took more time to plan, design and get organized than it took to do the mural itself,” she said. She started having conversations with Emily in August, and the actual painting didn’t take place until October. Getting the approval from the building owner, obtaining insurance, and figuring out the supply list and paint quote, which comes from California, was a long process.
The Design Process
She had a rough idea of what she wanted to do. “I came up with the design that played off the business.” She wanted something that was family-friendly that her visitors and guests could interact with. A design that was fun and bright. Maddy really liked what she had researched about engagement murals, such as the butterfly wings you will find on her mural. In other pieces she has done, she really likes to do hands, so she wanted to include hands somewhere within her mural, too.
“It was a little nerve-racking knowing that people may not understand it and that’s okay, but for me, it really felt like something I wanted to play off the nourishment of the business. They are really thoughtful about the food they have. They have multiple vegan options. It’s all sourced intentionally. She does a lot of work creating recipes, and it’s all made with love. She has a really great outlook for a business. If someone was coming to nourish their bodies, where could they come to nourish their mind and soul? And that would be just an extension of the business in the back, so that’s kind of where I started with the idea,” the proud artist explained. Naming her mural “Nourish” tied everything together for her. “I think this makes sense. I just went with what first stuck with me. I don’t want to overwork this. This is what it means to me, so I will just leave it at that. It really felt like it was a connection, and that can really be interpreted how you want. It can be a connection with yourself, a connection you have with a spiritual realm, a connection with a person, or a connection between communities. Essentially anything. I wanted people to take the freedom to interpret it as they wanted to,” said the artistic Hendersonian.
This was Maddy’s first independent mural project from start to finish. She had a course in college where they recieved a bid to do an installation mural, but she never actually had the opportunity to see it installed due to the location. She worked on it with ten other students and her professor. That was her first inspiration where she realized people did this. The 2nd Street mural with Leah was her first paint on brick experience, and Maddy is so grateful for each of the opportunities that led her to planning, designing and painting her own.
Overcoming The Challenges & Soaking in the Experience
Maddy felt the biggest challenge for her during this experience was her own self doubts and inflicted anxiety. The challenge of knowing she could do it and being her own worst enemy. She was really confident until her paint brush hit the wall for the first time. She recalls thinking to herself, “This isn’t going to happen. It’s going to fall through.” The artistic aspect comes naturally for Maddy, but the preparation and planning isn’t something that comes organically to her. “I am a free spirit and not a Type A person,” she explained. However, the amount of support was overwhelming and truly gave her the confidence to believe in herself. “There is a really cool thing about working closely with people in a public space.” She remembers many conversations she had with people passing by about art and its meaning and purpose.
Maddy recalls Hendersonians shouting from across the street and saying, “Hey, you are doing a great job!” It was rewarding to have people show that support in the midst of COVID because at times it made her forget that all of that was happening. Her mural was her focus at the time, and being outside and surrounded by individuals from a distance made life seem normal again.
“Just knowing there is a permanence to it. In my mind, I just wanted to paint a mural, but full circle, there were so many psychological layers such as vulnerability, acceptance and support.” Maddy thought, “This is taking a lot of self love,” which is essentially what the mural stood for. As an artist, it was really amazing for Maddy to see this full circle project come together.
Volunteers Giving Their Time
The volunteers Maddy had by her side during this project were nothing short of amazing. Grace Henderson was one of the people who helped her every day. Grace is another muralist here in Henderson, and she and Maddy became close and mentored each other. “We talked about confidence being women and trying to be visionaries in a small community. Trying to start conversations that may or may not already be happening in the art community. This might sound cheesy, but I really love to have one-on-one conversations with people.”
Other volunteers were people she knew, or knew her well enough to know she was about to begin this project and reached out asking to help. At first, she needed all the help she could get. She recalls one day where she had 10 volunteers. She laughed saying, “I felt like a project manager.” She enjoyed every minute of it. “The people who came out and said they wanted to help speaks to the community’s needs for more art engagement or art education. They really want to bring people in. It is more of a fine arts community, but they still want to learn and be a part of it.” Maddy got her learning experience by volunteering with Leah, and she wanted to be that for others, too.
An Artist Who Does It All
Maddy is currently balancing her full-time job in Evansville with Redstitch as a Senior Digital Designer and her side hustle business, WingspanArtist. She has four mural leads she is actively trying to put a contract down on now.
Maddy has been doing freelance art on the side since college, and she always told herself one day she’d invest more time in it. “I am in my late 20s, and I haven’t really done anything to make my free time work for me,” she said. She got her website up a couple years ago, and began making decal stickers to get something out there. She explained that taking this leap to get a website up and running “was the marrying of my hobby and my job.” This was her way of putting herself out there to promote her murals online. She didn’t want to make it a wasted effort. She had the experience, so this was her opportunity to share with others the talent she has to offer.
The Start of Something New
“If I had seen individuals in the art community putting a mural up as a young child, that would have been really powerful for me knowing how passionate I was about it at a young age.” She feels this is important for our younger generation to be introduced to. Maddy hopes it encourages the younger generations that “someone from here left their mark and you can, too.”
There were some elementary students who had the opportunity to help her paint the mural. She explained how they may not know anything about design or technique at that age, but it gave them the confidence to go back to their classmates and say, “I helped with it.” She hopes to see our young people take on the same creative spirit as she had as a child.
If there is one thing Maddy wants the community to understand it would be this, “Art is for everybody.” She explained how there is a little bit of a stigma when it comes to art, yet we have art everywhere. “I think it is really important to let young people form their own thoughts about art. What do you think about this? What do you see?” She hopes this opens doors for more individuals in the Henderson community to be engaged and talk about art more, including our younger generation.
Finding the Mural
Located behind Henderson Juice Co, Hendersonians can get to the mural from Water Street. Maddy said there is a spot called the “Women’s Honor Court,” and if you turn into that parking lot off Water Street you’ll see it. You can also turn the corner by the library if you are leaving Henderson Juice Co. to walk around back behind the building. There is a loft apartment, so Maddy asks everyone to be mindful that people’s living space is there.
You can also see the mural from the Henderson Tourism Commission. Maddy said they can help you find not only her mural, but other spots downtown with public art as well.
What Maddy Offers
Maddy’s business, WingspanArtist, offers a variety of services such as mural painting and design, painting commission, logo design, portable mural backdrop, graphic design, tattoo design, watercolor painting, branding, custom canvas building, creative consultation, digital pet portrait, t-shirt and apparel design and more.
Interested in a mural by Maddy? You can get a quote on mural pricing by visiting Maddy’s website www.wingspanartist.com, and also check out all of her services.
What’s Maddy’s newest project venture? You can now nominate a Henderson business for a FREE mural. Visit her website to learn more and to find the nomination forms. Nominations must be submitted by July 26, 2021.
Maddy is grateful for the opportunity she was given to create the “Nourish” mural, and she looks forward to continuing to serve her community as an artist.
Lyndi Mauk, editor of Henderson Family Magazine, was born and raised in the Bluegrass State. She is grateful to be going through life alongside her husband and best friend, Brandon, and being a mother to their two children.
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