As a teenager, Kyle McIntosh worked at Rally’s in Seymour.
Across the intersection of Burkart Boulevard and Tipton Street was a concrete wall below the parking lot of Seymour Coin Laundry.
As someone with an interest in art, graffiti in particular, he saw a blank canvas.
“I used to spend most of my time just staring out the window looking at it instead of working, but I would think of different ways that I would paint this wall and how I would do it,” McIntosh said. “I always had the idea of giving it that 3-D, kind of looking underneath the parking lot stuff coming out from under it.”
A couple of times in recent years, McIntosh, who lives in Crothersville and owns Beauty from Ashes Tattoo Parlor there, talked to Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson and said if the city ever had a chance to make art on the wall, he wanted to do the project.
Earlier this year, more than 20 years after his time working at Rally’s, McIntosh received the green light to paint a mural on the 156-foot-long wall.
Nicholson found some extra funds to cover the cost of the mural, and the proposal to pay McIntosh $3,000 for the project was approved by the Seymour Board of Public Works and Safety.
“It’s this huge piece at a great price. For mural work, it’s very affordable,” Nicholson said.
“I wanted to make sure that we did it at a price that was affordable,” McIntosh said. “It wasn’t to cut throats of future artists that want to do murals. It wasn’t like that at all because I want to open opportunities through the city of Seymour where they can see ‘Look, we can get a pretty good-sized, pretty detailed mural and we don’t have to spend a house note to do it.’”
McIntosh’s first step was to determine the focus of the mural and sketch it out. He choose the theme “Support the local arts,” and the sketches were presented to the city and tweaked some before receiving final approval.
He said he put in more than 38 hours of design time.
“I made a promise to myself that if I ever got to do a large public mural in Seymour that it would do something that celebrates the local arts,” he said. “I wanted to have a voice for the local arts. Even though murals are art, I feel like the local arts haven’t been represented in the way they should.”
McIntosh started on the mural the first week of September and was done about three and a half weeks later. He said a large mural usually takes five to six weeks.
“This one, it wasn’t that it was super large. It is long, but it’s not tall,” he said. “It’s not a lot of square footage to cover, but it was the radiuses and angles, and the location made it a little bit harder.”
All of the objects represent different creative trades in the local area. They include drama masks, a camera, a pencil, dance shoes, scissors, a fork, a needle and thread, a paintbrush, a spray paint can, headphones, origami, topography boxes and a quill.
He added grass along the bottom of the mural so the objects are sitting on the ground, and he added columns to make it look like all of the items were coming out from the underground.
“That’s a real subliminal representation of our local arts coming out of the underground and everybody can see it in the forefront,” he said. “The grass is for the green space that’s otherwise a concrete area.”
Throughout the mural, there also are purple paint splotches in different shapes and sizes.
“The purple is actually representing paint and ink coming from the inkwell,” McIntosh said. “The reason why I made it so big and so bright is because I wanted it to kind of almost mimic graffiti because I wanted it to go back to the roots of why this was done in the first place, which is my graffiti roots.”
The mural was completed with more than 200 cans of aerosol paint. McIntosh then added primer and sealer.
“For me, that was a big statement because spray paint, graffiti has always had such a stigma and still has a stigma to it that I wanted to show people just because you’re using a spray paint can, it doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “You can do a fine art with spray paint, so that was kind of the idea was breaking that barrier down, too. I could have used a paintbrush, but spray paint was more of a statement than anything else.”
While working on the mural, McIntosh shared photos and also went live on Facebook multiple times. Those can be viewed at facebook.com/kylemcintoshart.
“So many people said they were so appreciative that it was live because they felt like that they were included in it,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many people said that over and over, how they felt that just because they watched it live, that they felt like they were part of it and they were watching history happen. In future murals that happen in the city or future art projects, hopefully, they can do it live so people can be involved, as well.”
As people look at the mural, McIntosh said he hopes they see something that hasn’t been done in Seymour before.
“There’s a quote that I live by. It’s a quote by Banksy. It says, ‘Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable,’” he said. “That’s why I wanted to put it out so in the face, so bright, so abstract because some people are going to embrace it, some people are going to absolutely love it and some people are absolutely going to hate it. But the thing of it is you need both sides. I want people to take away that we do something different in this town.”
He also wants other artists to submit proposals for local art projects to the city.
“Ask them is all you have to do,” he said. “They are never going to know until you ask them. Get that permission. If they have the money, if they have the funding or if they have permission to do so, they are probably going to do it, so get out there and do it.”
Thinking back on his vision for the wall 20-plus years ago and now seeing the finished product, McIntosh said he can’t believe it really happened.
“For me, it’s more than just ‘Oh, look at me. I painted this wall. That’s my piece.’ For me, it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for 20 years,” he said.
“Then not only this design but the whole idea of getting the local arts out there, not just me but a lot of people here locally have been working their butts off for the last 20, 30, 40 years — way before I was even around — trying to represent the local arts, and it just doesn’t get real far,” he said. “But I think we’re getting to the point where that’s going to change. Hopefully, that will change.”
Nicholson said McIntosh did a spectacular job on the mural, and he expects this to lead to future projects, whether they are done by McIntosh or other artists.
He also admires the story McIntosh shared from 20 years ago while he was working at Rally’s.
“Everything has its time,” Nicholson said. “Twenty years ago, this wasn’t going to happen. Here we are all these years later and he finally got to, so don’t forget those dreams because they could come around years and years and years later.”