Putnam County mural festival creates a sense of pride among Greencastle residents

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Photo courtesy of the Putnam County Mural Project

Loud music echoed through downtown Greencastle late on Friday, September 23. Hidden in between shops on Washington Street, people congregated around a colorful mural displaying, “Welcome to Putnam County.” One of the several murals put up in the local community, this eye-catching design was the centerpiece of the 2022 Community Putnam County Mural Festival.

Cameron Moberg, also known as Camer1, was chosen to paint the Putnam County Visitors Center wall in the heart of Greencastle. At the heart of the mural fest’s block party, the mural was taken on by an artist who grew up infatuated with all types of art.

I have been doing art for as long as I can remember. It’s my very first memory. I would draw bugs, butterflies, cars, planes, really anything and everything I could,” Moberg said. 

Moberg quickly discovered that other people shared his love for his work. During his school years, Moberg would enter design competitions. His parents played an integral role in the rising artist’s journey. 

“My mom and dad were always supportive. My dad would doodle with me here and there and always encourage my work,” Moberg said. “I remember in second grade my mom framing my work and putting on my first art show at a coffee shop.”

In 1992, Moberg’s brother showed him a graffiti magazine. Instantly, Moberg started to draw letters.

“I was hooked and still am,” he said. 

Almost a decade later, Moberg began to combine some of the graffiti skills he learned with the imagery he drew growing up. Over the next few years, Moberg started small side gigs to bring his passion for art to the public. Here, his art career began to take off. 

“Slowly, my work shifted from letter focused work to predominantly imagery. In 2015, I won a reality show called Street Art Throwdown. This gave me the confidence I needed and a little nest egg to jump into full time art,” Moberg said. 

Much of Moberg’s work features font based work with bright imagery. When the Putnam County Mural Fest looked for artists, Moberg was chosen to create a focal point for the Greencastle community that was exciting. Along with the words “Welcome to Putnam County,” the mural boasts the peony, the state flower, as well as monarch butterflies. 

Alexandra Chamberlain, one of the founding members, elaborated upon the meaning behind the artwork. 

“Our hope for the ‘Welcome to Putnam County’ mural by Cameron Moberg was to create a space of immediate pride and recognition of a place so many of us call home,” she said. 

Since Moberg was a kid, he would draw butterflies. Not until later in life would Moberg come to understand they had a deeper meaning. While in the chrysalis, the butterflies experience pain. Moberg took this new understanding into his work.

We will all experience pain, but what will we allow us to become? How can we bring beauty, love and joy to the world?” Moberg said.

Despite living in San Francisco, Moberg fell in love with Indiana once he started painting in the state seven to eight years ago. 

“It’s just a different pace of life and people have always been so welcoming and appreciative,” he said. “I love it so much I ended up getting a little property in Rensselaer, Indiana where I put on the mural festival there called RenArtWlk.”

Chris Flegal, previous community engagement coordinator for the art department at DePauw, co-founded the Putnam County Mural Project as a committee of five alongside Chamberlain and others. Starting in 2019 with the painting of silos off of Veterans Memorial Highway, the project intends to activate unused spaces, engage the community, and bring community voice into the process. 

“We are very intentional about bringing the community voice into the artwork process and having artists play off of what the community shares with us,” Flegal said. 

With live music by a local band, food vendors, drinks, bounce houses, pumpkin painting, and a 360 camera booth, Flegal and the committee designed the block party to engage around the artwork and bring the community together.

 “The block party was just a way to set the tone for the future of space. It’s also a way to just have fun and celebrate with a community that helped support this,” Flegal said.

Chamberlain’s favorite part about the block party was seeing the community come together. 

“Seeing people exude happiness in their community-that’s the power that community art can wield,” Chamberlain said. 

The Putnam County Mural project has big goals for art in the community. In a small town like Greencastle, the project intends to reach out to all parts of the community. 

“For me, it’s all about equity in the arts. We are a rural community, so equity means a lot of things. I think for Putnam County, it’s reaching places in the community that would otherwise not experience art,” Flegal said. 

With plans to host another mural festival in 2024, the project is far from done. 

“We believe that art can spark a lot of civic pride and conversation about who we are as a community and hopefully inspire the next generation of mural makers and art admirers,” Flegal said.