NEW ALBANY — Public art projects have been bringing splashes of color to familiar features of downtown New Albany, and over the past few days, a longtime business has become an artists’ canvas.
Internationally-known artist Andrei Krautsou has completed a mural on the side of Schmitt Furniture in downtown New Albany over the past few weeks. He works with his wife, Julia Yu-Baba, and together, the two artists are known by the name Key Detail. The large mural pictures a woman with cascading blue hair representing the Ohio River, and her hand is placed upon the Sherman Minton Bridge.
“Our goal is for those who see our work to look more carefully at the world around them to discover beauty,” he said.
Krautsou, a native of Belarus who is based in New York City, has been a muralist for more than 10 years, and he has completed work across the U.S., Europe and Asia. After the city sent a call out to artists in January, his proposal was selected out of about 16 submissions.
Claire Johnson, neighborhood initiatives coordinator with the City of New Albany’s Redevelopment department, said she appreciates how the mural “brings a natural landscape into the downtown area,” and she spoke with Krautsou to help him learn more about the area. The mural features local flora and fauna that can be found in places such as New Albany’s Loop Island Wetlands, including a great blue heron.
“I think it’s overwhelmingly beautiful,” Johnson said. “It invites you to walk down that alley to Market Street, and it works as an alley activation. It’s very inviting, and it brings a lot of smiles to people’s faces as they are walking by or driving by.”
Louis Schmitt, owner of Schmitt Furniture, has been excited to see the mural progress over the past few days.
“It falls right in line with how we feel about the community and our partnership with the surrounding cities in the Indiana-Kentucky area,” he said. “We just think that art is important, and community-mindedness is important.”
The Schmitt Furniture mural isn’t the only new public art project in downtown New Albany. A colorful mural was recently added to the parking garage on State Street, and on Monday, local artist Carrie Johns was putting finishing touches on a mural on the back of MESA, A Collaborative Kitchen, which was commissioned by the owners of the business.
Johns’ mural includes portraits of famous chefs ranging from Julia Child to Anthony Bourdain, along with quotes about cooking.
Johnson said murals are a way to make art accessible to everyone, particularly during a time when museums such as the Carnegie Center for Art & History are closed due to the pandemic.
“I hope, as we continue to build our downtown and local businesses, we continue to make it a creative and welcoming place for people and a destination,” she said.