Pamela Bliss is responsible for two of Indy's new murals in the 46 For XLVI project. One of these, her monumental portrait of native son and American literary master Kurt Vonnegut on Massachusetts Avenue, just west of Alabama Street, already shows potential to become what every work of public art aspires to be: a local icon.
"People from San Francisco were walking by while I was working on it and said, 'Hey! That's Kurt Vonnegut!'" Bliss says. Couples are reportedly having their photographs taken in front of Bliss' portrait.
Bliss sees her work — and the 46 For XLVI mural project — as being in a direct line of descent from the murals created through the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression.
"(President Franklin D.) Roosevelt tried to get the economy going by employing different categories of the workfield, and the arts was one of them," she says. "I feel like I'm part of that."
Bliss, who has another mural depicting such Indianapolis jazz greats as Wes Montgomery and Freddie Hubbard on the Musicians Repair and Sales Store on Capitol, believes murals enhance the community. "People tend to fall in love with murals. I've painted a few murals over in Wayne County and people get really attached to them, especially if they see them in progress. They come by and they feel they're a part of it. Instead of painting in a studio and you hang it on a wall, people are actually being a part of the experience. Their hands aren't putting it on the wall, but they are experiencing it and that's why they get attached to it."
Bliss says the mural project has put Indianapolis on the map. "It's already become historic. Just like the WPA murals — they were created for a reason and, one of these days, all of these murals, as a whole, will be known in history as the Super Bowl murals."
Mural city: 46 for XLVI (Slideshow)
The Super Bowl is the pretext for this ambitious project by the Arts Council of Indianapolis. Here are a couple dozen of the 46 murals.